Racing: Newcastle trainer Kris Lees has Clearly Innocent second-up in The Everest

TEAM: Kris Lees-trained Clearly Innocent (left) and jockey Hugh Bowman will combine in The Everest at Randwick next weekend. Picture: AAP Images
TEAM: Kris Lees-trained Clearly Innocent (left) and jockey Hugh Bowman will combine in The Everest at Randwick next weekend. Picture: AAP Images

Newcastle trainer Kris Lees reckons group 1 winner Clearly Innocent is always better second-up from a spell.

That theory will be put to the test in new $10million feature The Everest (1200 metres) at Randwick next weekend, but based on the six-year-old bay gelding’s record it’s hard to argue.

Clearly Innocent has barely missed a trick in those circumstances since first hitting the track two-and-a-half-years ago.

Twice saluting at Scone and the 2016 Country Championship final at Randwick, all in that very fashion for former trainer Greg Bennett.

The pattern continued despite a change to Lees’ stables, defending the Luskin Star Stakes at this year’s Scone Cup carnival. 

The world’s richest turf race now awaits Clearly Innocent following a third on return in the group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.

A late surge down the inside was enough for Everest slot-holder Damion Flower to give Lees’ charge one of the last two available spots.  

The Broadmeadow-based team hopes history repeats for Clearly Innocent with another second-up success on October 14. 

“His best work [last start] was the last 200 metres and through the line and he has come through it quite well,” Lees said.

“He always improves off his first run and hopefully he shows that good improvement going into the next run.”

Lees said the overriding emotion was relief when Sunday’s call came to confirm Clearly Innocent would be one of the 12 starters.  

“It was a bit of relief, but I was just pleased he came back in good order and pleased for him to gain a start,” Lees said.

“It’s great to be apart of it.”

Hugh Bowman was officially announced as the jockey for Clearly Innocent on Thursday.

The pair have combined the last four runs and produced four placings, with the highlight being a group 1 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup triumph at Eagle Farm on May 27.

As of Friday Clearly Innocent was paying $11 on TAB – rated behind Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign ($4.60) and three-time TJ Smith Stakes champion Chautauqua ($6) but in front of Australian Bloodstock-owned Brave Smash ($26).  

“When you’re racing for $10million you know it’s going to be a good field,” Lees said.

Lees has also nominated Clearly Innocent for the group 1 spring carnival double – Maniakto Stakes at Moonee Valley on October 27 and Darley Classic at Flemington on November 11.

This weekend and Lees was unsure about starting Singing and Just Dreaming at Randwick but had multiple runners entered across Newcastle, Port Macquarie and Hawkesbury. 

Meanwhile, fellow Newcastle trainer Jay Hopkins resumes last month’s Cameron Handicap winner Got Unders in a 1400m handicap at Randwick on Saturday.

And Chris Waller won Friday’s Port Macquarie Cup (2000m) with Loving Home.

EVEREST ODDS: She Will Reign ($4.60), Chautauqua, Vega Magic ($6), Redzel ($7), Redkirk Warrior ($8), English ($9), Clearly Innocent, Deploy ($11), Brave Smash, Houtzen ($26), Fell Swoop, Tulip ($51).