Apr 11, 2019
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, April 11, 2019: EVALINA is out of the $500,000 PolyTrack Provincial Championships (1400m) Final at Royal Randwick on Saturday, leaving Kris Lees with two chances to win the annual feature for a third time.
Lees was forced to withdraw the three-year-old filly, who qualified for the final with her second to Golden Tycoon in the Gosford 1200m heat run at Newcastle on March 21, because of a temperature.
The news was obviously disappointing, but he still has two excellent chances in city winners Turnberry (Hugh Bowman) and Chalmers (James McDonald).
The Provincial Championships were launched in 2015 – and Lees has been successful with Danish Twist (2016) and Serene Miss last year.
“It looks a very open race, but I’m expecting my pair to run well,” Lees said this afternoon.
“Turnberry has drawn awkwardly, but as always, will put himself into the race.
“He would be better suited at 1600m, but I’ve kept him on the fresh side and he is very genuine.
“Chalmers has a real knockout chance.
“His first-up run was a beauty, and he has won second-up before.
“The Randwick 1400m will suit him, and he’ll be hitting the line strongly.”
When resuming, Chalmers was doing his best work late when third in Golden Tycoon’s Gosford heat at Newcastle.
Lees’ other Randwick representatives on Day 2 of The Championships are Gem Song (Listed South Pacific Classic, 1400m) and Star Reflection (Group 2 Sapphire Stakes, 1200m).
Miss Que is an emergency for the Sapphire, and will race in blinkers if she secures a start.
Talented three-year-old Gem Song had a setback after winning the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm on February 9 and never came in to contention when fifth to Krone in the Listed Darby Munro Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill on March 23 on a “Heavy 8” surface.
Lees is prepared to overlook that performance, but is concerned Saturday’s 1400m might be a shade short.
“I think it might have been a bit too heavy for him last time, and he is in good order,” he said.
“I expect him to run well, but feel he might now be looking for 1600m.
“With Star Reflection, I’m hoping she can at least fill a placing in a strong race. She performs well at Randwick.”
Lees is confident High Opinion (Ryan Maloney) – one of his three runners Eagle Farm runners - will be hard to beat in the Benchmark 75 Handicap (2200m).
“He’ll run well,” he said. “His latest run at Eagle Farm when third over 1800m was excellent.
“High Opinion usually holds his form once he strikes it and has an inside draw.”
Michael Cahill rides Intrinsic in the Class 3 Plate (1200m), and Larry Cassidy partners Guard Of Honour in the Open Handicap (1000m).
“Intrinsic has drawn poorly, but we’ll ride her conservatively,” he said.
“She hasn’t raced at Eagle Farm before, but it should suit her.”
Guard Of Honour resumed when fifth to Straturbo in a similar race at Eagle Farm on March 23, and his trainer says he has taken improvement from that and can figure in the finish.
Lees has eight acceptors at his home track meeting on Saturday, but Snitzel filly Celebrita’s Choice has drawn the outside in the Maiden Plate (1300m) against her own sex, and is not certain to make her debut.
Another debutant Apollo Prince contests the Maiden Plate for colts, geldings and entires, and his trainer says the Shamexpress three-year-old is a “nice horse”.
“He will definitely take improvement from this race, but I expect him to run well all the same,” Lees said.
Fuji Fury and Azarose line up in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1870m), and Lees says there are no problems about the former handling the rise from 1350m, when he resumed and made ground when ninth to stablemate Turnberry in the Provincial Championships Qualifier at Wyong on March 30.
Fuji Fury, a three-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice, won his first three starts last yearat 1400m, 1600m and 1880m before spelling.
“We had a throw at the stumps in the Provincial Qualifier when he was sharply up in class,” Lees said.
“He will run well on Saturday. Azarosewill race in blinkers and a lugging bit and may want further than this distance.”
Lees is giving Elgin (1870m Maiden Handicap) another chance and will probably spell him after the weekend, and he also starts Occupy, Miss Quaintly and Scenic Sight in the Class 2 Handicap (1400m).
Occupy is a UK stayer making his Aussie debut, Miss Quaintly is a former Queenslander who finished seventh over 1200m at Newcastle on March 21 at her first run for the stable and Scenic Sight is an ex-Darren Weir filly having her first start since October, and will race in a lugging bit.
Both Occupy and Scenic Sight are members of the Australian Bloodstock team.