Missile A Tough Task First-Up For Stablemates

Aug 09, 2019

NEWCASTLE: Friday, August 9, 2019: KRIS Lees says he isn’t expecting his Missile Stakes pair Le Romain and Invincible Gem to repeat their 2017 performances in tomorrow’s renewal at Rosehill Gardens.

Only five horses will contest the $200,000 Group 2 wfaMissile (1200m), in which Invincible Gem toppled Le Romain when the feature was run two years ago at Royal Randwick.

“Le Romain would have to be the pick of my pair going off their recent trials, but I’m not expecting either of them to beat Alizee,” Lees said this morning.

“They are definitely going to take improvement from tomorrow’s race, but it’s a good starting point for their spring campaigns.

“And Vegadaze is also a big threat. I feel he is pretty smart.”

James McDonald will ride triple Group 1 winner Le Romain, and Brenton Avdulla partners Group 1 placegetter Invincible Gem.

Lees has decided to remove blinkers from Le Romain, but says it is not a major issue.

“He had them on only once at the end of last campaign, and it didn’t make a difference,” he explained.

Le Romain, now a seven-year-old, has been a magnificent performer for the stable, winning seven races and notching 16 minor placings for prizemoney exceeding $4.1m.

Invincible Gem has also been an excellent representative, winning at both Group 2 and Group 3 level as well as her Group 1 second (narrowly beaten by Inference) in the 2017 Randwick Guineas as a three-year-old. She has raced 25 times for six wins and seven placings.

Lees withdrew dual acceptor Stella Sea Sun from the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1200m) against her own sex, preferring the Benchmark 78 over the same distance for three-year-olds and upwards.

And he had a simple explanation for doing so, aside from the obvious fact that it is a lesser rating event.

“I didn’t want to take on HautBrion Her (who is a short-priced favourite),” he said.

“Stella Sea Sun is in good form, and has trained on well since her Rosehill win a fortnight ago.”

Lees has also decided on gear changes for both Loveisili (2000m Benchmark 78 Handicap) and Articus (1400m Benchmark 88 Handicap).

Loveisili will race in a tongue tie, and blinkers are going back on Articus. Kerrin McEvoy rides both Australian Bloodstock horses.

“Loveisili seemed to be playing around with his tongue last time when he was beaten at Randwick,” Lees said.

“He had strung three wins together before that, and is definitely worth forgiving the Randwick defeat.

“Articus is coming back in distance, hence putting the blinkers back on.

“But I feel he would be better suited if the track was rain-affected.”

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