May 02, 2019
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, May 2, 2019: KRIS Lees has kept Turnberry on the fresh side in an attempt to get him back into the winning list on the Kensington track on Saturday.
Lees accepted with three horses – Turnberry, Articus and Mongolian Wolf – in the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1400m), but has not yet confirmed the latter pair as definite starters.
“I’ll keep an eye on the weather,” Lees said this afternoon. “Both Articus and Mongolian Wolf would be better suited on wet ground.
“If we don’t get forecast rain, I’ll probably keep them for the Scone Cup (1600m) next Friday.”
Turnberry won the fifth and final heat of the Provincial Championships at Wyong on March 30, narrowly beating Bobbing, who a fortnight later won the $500,000 Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick.
Turnberry, with 59kg, drew poorly and finished an excellent fifth, beaten less than a length.
“Realistically, he wants further, but he hasn’t raced for three weeks and I’ve kept him on the fresh side,” Lees said.
“There wasn’t anything else that was suitable.”
Apprentice Sam Clenton’s 2kg claim will lessen Turnberry’sweight to 56.5kg.
Lees also runs Chilly Cha Cha and Fuji Fury in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1800m) at the Kensington meeting.
Both will be ridden by apprentices. Jean Van Overmeire rides Chilly Cha Cha, and is expected to claim at least 1.5kg of his 2kg claim. Robbie Dolan’s 2kg claim drops Fuji Fury’s weight to 51kg.
“Chilly Cha Chais taking a while to hit form this campaign, but is getting out to a more suitable distance,” Lees said.
“But she has to overcome the outside draw.
“Fuji Fury is lightly-raced and promising and fitter for two recent runs. He is dropping sharply in weight, but stepping up sharply in grade.
“This race will give us a good guide as to where we go with him.”
Lees is hoping Hallelujah Boy (Matt McGillivray), currently first emergency, can sneak into the field for Saturday’s $500,000 Group 2 wfaHollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast.
“He is going to need both rain and to get a start, but is capable of causing an upset if that happens,” Lees said.
“He loves wet ground, is fit and is trained on the track.”
Hallelujah Boy easily won a 1615m Quality at Doomben on April 20 on heavy ground, and tackles weight-for-age company for the first time if he makes the field.
Lees runs three-year-old fillies Grand Bouquet (Jason Collett) and Hammoon Ballad (Larry Cassidy) in the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m).
Both are at lengthy odds but in good order and have arrived safely at Lees’ Gold Coast base. “This is a test for both fillies, and will tell us whether to proceed to races such as the Doomben Roses and Queensland Oaks,” Lees said.
Guard Of Honour won’t attempt to defend his Bat Out Of Hell (900m) “title”.
“With his wide draw and the likelihood of rain, I’ve decided to bring him back to Newcastle and run him at the Scone carnival next week,” Lees said.
He has two runners at Newcastle on Saturday, where the rail is out 11m, and considers them both good chances.
Magnolia Power (Mitchell Bell) contests the Maiden Plate (1200m) against her own sex, and Stella Sea Sun (Darryl McLellan) also tackles her own sex in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1300m).
Both well-bred fillies found one better when resuming at Newcastle on April 18. Magnolia Power (by I Am Invincible) chased home Aunty Pugs in a 900m Maiden Plate at her first start since last October, and Stella Sea Sun (Redoute’sChoice) was beaten by Airwing in a Class 2 Handicap (1200m), having not raced since December.
High Opinion has arrived safely, and will be Lees’ first ever runner at Wagga in tomorrow’s $170,000 Listed Gold Cup (2000m).
Tim Clark, who has partnered High Opinion in his two Sydney wins under Lees’ care, rides the gelding, who lines up in the Cup on the back of two recent Eagle Farm placings under big weights.
Tactical Advantage will gallop on Saturday and Wednesday mornings before being sent to the Gold Coast to run in next Saturday’s $800,000 Group 1 wfa Doomben 10,000 (1200m).
Lees has not yet confirmed a rider for Tactical Advantage, who was an excellent first-up close second under 59.5kg in last Saturday’s Hawkesbury Rush (1100m) at the stand alone meeting.