Dec 24, 2015
NEWCASTLE: Thursday, December 24, 2015: AN outside barrier hasn’t deterred Kris Lees from giving Felines an opportunity at the Gold Coast on Saturday to gain a wildcard Magic Millions entry.
Lees sent first-up winner Felines north by float overnight to run in the aptly-named $75,000 Bat Out Of Hell Handicap (900m) rather than stay at home for the Benchmark 85 Handicap (1000m) at Royal Randwick.
Kerrin McEvoy has been booked for the mare, who drew the extreme outside (20) – but only 14 can run and there are six emergencies.
“Felines isn’t a Magic Millions product, but Saturday’s race provides the winner with a wildcard entry into a $1m race on Magic Millions day at the Gold Coast on January 9,” Lees said this morning.
“It makes sense to give her the chance to get into the field for the Magic Millions Sprint (1100m).”
Felines is raced by MM owner Gerry Harvey, and has built an excellent record of five wins and seven placings from 15 starts.
With James McDonald aboard, she maintained her splendid first-up form by scoring over 1000m at Randwick on December 5 in a Benchmark 85 Handicap.
From four starts on resumption, she has won twice and been runner-up on the other two occasions.
And there’s nothing wrong with her second-up record, either.
Felines has won two of her three second-up starts, and Lees is giving her a great chance on Saturday nothwithstanding the awkward draw.
“She has trained on strongly since her first-up win, and they always go hard in this 900m race,” he said.
“That will give her the chance to get over the top of them at the end.”
If Felines does land the Bat Out Of Hell and secure a Magic Millions Sprint berth, Lees will bring her home and then go back for the January 9 assignment.
With Felines lining up at the Gold Coast, Lees is left with two Randwick representatives on Saturday.
Awasita (apprentice Sam Clenton) runs against her own sex in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m), and Slow Pace (Brenton Avdulla) resumes in the December Handicap (1600m).
Lees was pleased with Awasita’s first-up fifth behind stablemate Felines in the December 5 race at Randwick, and is expecting her to race well.
“The 1200m suits her better, and she has drawn well. If the inside is okay on Saturday, I’m giving her a good chance.”
Clenton’s 2kg claim lessens Awasita’s topweight to 59.5kg, and she has won twice from five second-up appearances.
Slow Pace hasn’t started since failing in Beyond Thankful’s Wyong Gold Cup (2080m) on September 4, and has had two trials to fit him for his resumption.
“Some of his best form has been fresh, including his close third in last year’s Newcastle Newmarket at his first Australian start,” Lees said.
“But he’s not the easiest horse to follow, and has to be taken on trust.”
Lees has decided to remove blinkers from the eight-year-old in Saturday’s race.