STABLE TALK: Lees says it's time for Whitlam

A SWITCH in plans by Kris Lees has ensured that Whitlam is a punter's elect at Rosehill tomorrow.

Lees waited until right on scratching time before pulling Whitlam out of the group 3 Southern Cross Stakes at Warwick Farm over 1200 metres, won by Skytrain, last Saturday.

"I had the race on this Saturday in the back of my mind and just wanted to see if there was any scratchings on the wet track last week," Lees said. "When Skytrain and Streama were both running I decided to wait a week with Whitlam. I am glad I did.

"This is easier and seems a nice race for him.

"He is in a benchmark rather than a group race and has drawn well in gate seven."

Whitlam runs in the final event at Rosehill, the 1200m benchmark 85.

Lees also has one of the most interesting runners at Rosehill with imported galloper Hathras contesting the 1800m benchmark 75.

The former German galloper, which is a good-looking horse, finished third in his Australian debut at Newcastle.

"I have got a lot for time for this one," Lees said.

"He is in town to see where we are headed with him.

"His overseas form says he will handle a wet track."

■ Newcastle galloper Baufort Gyer left last night and will run in Brisbane tomorrow.

He contests race three at Eagle Farm.

"I am just following the rain with him," Kris Lees said.

"He handles the soft so he can run in Brisbane where all the rain has been."

Lees is heading far and wide tomorrow in search of winners.

As well as Rosehill and Eagle Farm the premier Newcastle trainer will have his first runner at Tuncurry Forster.

He will start The Last Shout in race four at Tuncurry Forster and may run Le Jardin in race six.

■ Champion Cessnock jockey Robert Thompson is about to obtain another first in his long and illustrious riding career.

"I have been invited to ride at Albury over their cup carnival," Thompson said.

"It is in about three weeks so I readily accepted the invitation to ride at a track I have never been at before."

There cannot be too many tracks left in Australia that Thompson has not ridden and won at.

Thompson said Youthful Jack might head back home to Taree for a spell after finishing last in the listed George Adams at Launceston on Wednesday.

"The rain really came during the day and the track got worse and worse," Thompson said.

"I was going well just behind the leader for the first bit of the race but then he took off and my bloke was chasing hard but not getting near the frontrunner, which won the race."

■ Wyong's finance committee attended the Gosford Race Club's monthly committee meeting on Tuesday.

Racing NSW's Brian Judd was also at the meeting.

The gathering discussed the saga that is the media-rights contract.

There was no mention of a merger between the clubs, takeover, or the closure of one or both, so they say.

■ Darren Smith still believes his dual group 1 winner Atomic Force is on track for a comeback in the group 2 $175,000 Challenge Stakes at Warwick Farm on March 16.

Smith was not worried by Atomic Force weakening noticeably in a trial at Randwick on Monday.

"There was no point in just letting him sit back early and run home at the death," Smith said. "I told Hughie Bowman to give him a click up and see how he went. He showed pace but was gassed by the 100m, but that was to be expected.

"He is still getting fit after a long lay-off from injury.

"Hugh said Atomic Force's action felt great, which is what I wanted to hear.

"He might have another exhibition gallop at Wednesday's Newcastle meeting. I think he will be right for the Challenge Stakes."

■ Newcastle trainer Norm Hilton is hopeful his promising stayer Carry Me Bluey can turn the tables on Frozen Rope tomorrow.

Frozen Rope won the Might And Power at Rosehill over 1800m on February 16 after battling it down the straight with Carry Me Bluey.

Tomorrow the pair clash again in the listed $100,000 Parramatta Cup over 1900m at Rosehill.

The Adam Duggan-trained Frozen Rope is up half a kilogram on his latest win.

Carry Me Bluey hit the front in the straight but was run down by the Gosford galloper.

However, Carry Me Bluey sat three wide without cover throughout.

"My horse did a great job under the circumstances last start," Hilton said.

"He had a tough run but still kept getting home.

"Frozen Rope did beat us, but he is up a bit in weight, and I'm sure the extra bit of ground on Saturday will suit my horse."

■ Here is a point that punters having a go at Gosford today could take into consideration.

Intercites is listed to make her debut in the opening race, the two-year-old maiden over 1000m.

But it is not the daughter of Excites' first trip to the races.

Last month she was backed into being an odds-on favourite at a Saturday Muswellbrook meeting.

Those who had seen her work thought she was the best bet of the program.

But Intercites had an incident in the mounting yard where she threw jockey Alison Threadwell and was scratched.

■ Promising Newcastle galloper Highest Rank will have no trouble making the trip from Broadmeadow to the Central Coast for the Gosford meeting.

In fact, he should be well and truly used to it.

Highest Rank was a good third on debut at Newcastle.

He was to race at Gosford last Saturday but made the trip south for nothing when the races were washed out after just one event.

Highest Rank has also trialled twice at Gosford.

He heads back down there for the 1000m maiden today.

■ Plenty of NSW clubs are in a state of flux as the race dates for next season, which starts in August, are yet to be released.

Clubs have seen a draft of dates, but the final set have not been released by Racing NSW.

It seems Racing NSW is still trying to sort out the dates for the Australian Turf Club meetings and that is stopping other clubs from getting their hands on when they will race.

Frustration is building and a few, including some provincial clubs, are not happy.

■ Comeback jockeys Danny Langridge and Craig Dwyer have rides for Paul Perry at Gosford today.

"Both have been riding a bit of trackwork for me so they are getting a chance on race day," Perry said.

■ The Muswellbrook club will start a fund-raising appeal for Hari Singh on Tuesday at its meeting.

The Indian-born jockey will never ride again after a horror fall at Tamworth last August. The club will have 12 months of fund-raising activities for Singh, who is married with a child.

■ The rumour that will have Newcastle sporting circles abuzz revolves around one of the 11 applicants for the three appointed positions on the new Newcastle Jockey Club board of directors.

If the rumour is correct, the person involved has plenty of sporting and business acumen to back his application.

He does not seem to have a racing background at all.

But he is the stablemate of one of the most high-profile people in racing in this country or anywhere in the world, for that matter.

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