In-form trainer Lees to splash cash

TRIUMPH: Chewychop gets congratulated by owner Cheryl Oliver, left,  after claiming victory yesterday.  Picture: Brock Perks
TRIUMPH: Chewychop gets congratulated by owner Cheryl Oliver, left, after claiming victory yesterday. Picture: Brock Perks

PREMIER Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will have plenty of spending money as he attempts to raid the yearling sales in New Zealand.

Lees is at the major New Zealand sales at Karaka trying to increase the number of horses at his Broadmeadow stables.

He watched from afar yesterday at the start of the Kiwi sales as his latest winning run continued.

Lees was represented by Give Me More, which won the 1500m maiden at Broadmeadow.

Lees has been in great form, starting at Scone on Friday when the Blake Spriggs-ridden Pinball Lass scored in the 1100m maiden.

That night imported galloper Award Season, with Kerrin McEvoy on board, was highly impressive for Lees in winning over 1900m at Canterbury.

On Saturday, Spriggs and Lees again scored when Belrock Lighthouse won at Wyong in a 1200m maiden.

Yesterday, champion Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman answered the call to ride Give Me More and others for Lees.

‘‘I have been out with suspension so when Kris said that he would give me the chance to get my eye in again I jumped at the opportunity,’’ Bowman said.

‘‘We go back a long way and we had our biggest successes with horses like Samantha Miss in races like the VRC Oaks. When Kris said he had hopes at Newcastle I wasn’t going to disagree.’’

Another in-form jockey-trainer combination was also successful at Broadmeadow yesterday.

Peter Robl led all the way to win the $100,000 listed Australia Day Cup over 2400m on Shadows In The Sun at Warwick Farm on Saturday.

Shadows In The Sun, a former Derby winner, is trained by Anthony  Cummings.

Yesterday, Robl  again led the way for Cummings, this time on Lychee in the 1300m maiden.

   ‘‘Lychee got away well and just made the others chase,’’ Robl said.

Robl truly is in form. As well as the Cummings pair, he also scored on War Charm in the last race at Warwick Farm on Saturday.

Dual group1-winning Newcastle trainer Darren Smith also had a top weekend.

He won with The Gallows at Wyong on Saturday, and yesterday Smith produced the most impressive winner at Newcastle in many months when Chewychop won the 1200m maiden.

Chewychop was having his first start and was in the outside barrier on a slow track. He missed the start but showed explosive speed to make up ground quickly, cross to the rails and lead.

 That was the end of the section as from there rivals saw only Chewychop’s rump.

‘‘We knew he was good judging on his trials, but still that was a fantastic effort,’’ Smith said. 

‘‘For such an inexperienced horse to do what he did shows he could be something above average.’’

Smith completed a great day when Full Blunt won the last, giving Bowman, who had replaced Josh Parr in the saddle, a winning double. 

■ Star Gosford apprentice Jenny Duggan and Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker may have their next staying star.

 At Newcastle yesterday, the pair combined with Celtic Prince, which bolted home in the 2300m maiden. Celtic Prince won by   7 lengths on a rain-affected track.

Duggan and Baker have formed a great combination recently, and the best they have had together is Cantonese.

Duggan has ridden Cantonese to five of his seven wins, and she hopes Celtic Prince can give her and Baker some sort of similar success in staying races in the future.

‘‘Bjorn sure can train a stayer,’’ Duggan said.

‘‘I thought this one was disappointing a couple of starts ago but Bjorn just said to wait until he gets over a staying trip. He was so right as Celtic Prince just kept going in the straight.’’

 ■ Miracles Of Life looked like superstar material in winning at Caulfield, but there was one better performance from a filly on Saturday.

No, it didn’t come at Warwick Farm, where Guelph disposed of her two-year-old rivals.

Yes, Guelph was also very good, but the female that took all honours on Saturday was Miracles Of Life’s unheralded rider, Lauren Stojakovic.

The young woman from South Australia was having her first city ride in Melbourne on a heavily fancied performer.

She gave Miracle of Life every chance to show just how good she is.

Her sheer joy in winning the race, the way she bubbled over in interviews, was refreshing. No cliches, just telling how great this moment was. Should be more of it.

Talk that the inexperienced rider will be replaced with a big-name jockey in the Blue Diamond is sheer folly.

Stojakovic may be a no-name to local punters, but the 29-year-old gets on famously with Miracles Of Life.

That should be enough to get her the ride on the big two-year-old group1 in Melbourne next month.

 ■ Guelph looked A grade  in winning at Warwick Farm, but the race could produce a very interesting form line.

 Guelph beat Good Job Bro by a length, and this pair spaced their rivals.

At his previous start Good Job Bro led into the straight at Newcastle over 1200m but was mowed down by The Life on January 12.

 ■ Are jockeys paranoid? The way they steered out wide at Warwick Farm showed they thought the rails was a no-go zone.

So were they right, and, if so, how could a section near the fence be as bad as what it was in the minds of riders?

Sure, jockeys won getting inside runs, but they were still away from the rails.

Answers need to be found straight away or racing at The Farm and the term ploughed paddock will go together again and punters will shy away.

 ■ At Warwick Farm the flops were easier to spot than the be-on-me-next-time runs.

Heavily backed Havana Rey and Knoydart were punter killers with their defeats.

 But there were winning rides that had punters jumping for joy. They included Brenton Avdulla (Mickelberg), Jason Collett (Earnest Ernest and Thumbtacks) and Peter Robl (Shadows In The Sun and War Charm).

 ■ There were 4361 at Wyong’s Australia Day meeting on Saturday to celebrate 100 years of racing at the track.

‘‘It was a big crowd, a really happy crowd,’’ Wyong chief Tony Drew said.

But Drew has not finished with that summation, saying: ‘‘I can safely say it was a record crowd for a Saturday Australia Day meeting at Wyong.’’ 

That is correct as it was the first Saturday Australia Day meeting at Wyong.

The TAB turnover was also very good at Wyong, with just under a million bet.

 ■ A teleconference will be held tomorrow morning between the five NSW provincial clubs and Racing NSW. Racing NSW officials will deliver and update on media rights to the clubs.

 ■ There were regulars at the Scone races scratching their heads when the jockey was legged up on Ortensia for an exhibition gallop last Friday.

The mare, which has won group 1s from Western Australia to Dubai and England, worked with stablemate Kramer.

Kramer was ridden by well-known country jockey Leanne Henry. But some had no idea who the female was who went out on Ortensia.

In fact, she was Ortensia’s strapper Leah Gavranich. She has accompanied the Scone mare on her world tour and trainer Paul Messara gave her the duty of riding in the gallop.

Kramer started well in front of Ortensia, which did make up a bit of ground but could not catch the leader.

Messara was happy with Ortensia’s effort. But those who watched the gallop wanted to be on the restricted-class galloper Kramer next time round.

 That could be at the next Gosford meeting on Wednesday.


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