Trainer Kris Lees calls on Jeff Lloyd for Doukhan's Queen's Cup shot

Jeff Lloyd
Jeff Lloyd

Newcastle trainer Kris Lees has called on premier Brisbane jockey Jeff Lloyd as he continues his push into Queensland racing at Caloundra.

Lees will have Doukhan in the group 3 Queen's Cup (3200m) where he will take on his recent Sydney conqueror Plot Twist.

Damian Browne rode a double for Lees at Doomben last Saturday but had a commitment to Kiwi stayer Megablast in the Cup.

Lloyd, who is already a clear winner of another Brisbane premiership, is yet to win a Queens Cup-Queensland Cup and gets a final chance on Doukhan. The 57-year-old jockey is excepted to announce his retirement date soon.

Lees intends to have a higher presence in Queensland racing and will be sending more horses north through trainer Mel Eggleston's Gold Coast stables. Lees's travelling foreman Cameren Swan said it was hoped the stable could target more races in Queensland with the right horses.

"Kris likes to place his horses in races that suit, and there should be plenty in Queensland," Swan said.

Doukhan looks an ideal type for the Queen's Cup after going down by a nose when second to Plot Twist in the Stayers Cup (3200m) at Randwick last month. The nine-year-old, which has since run fourth in the Winter Cup Rosehill, meets Plot Twist on the same weight terms as the Stayers Cup.

He is raced by the Hunter-based syndicators Australian Bloodstock, which had a double with Princess Posh and Hallelujah Boy for Lees at Doomben last Saturday.

A French import, Doukhan hasn't won since scoring at Randwick over 2400m then Canterbury at 2700m in November.

** Top-class racehorse and stallion Naturalism has died at Meringo Stud on the NSW south coast aged 29.

"He retired from racing in 1993 and stood at Segenhoe Stud before relocating to Meringo Stud," Kylie Mercer from Meringo said. "Naturalism served mares up until 2010 and had been enjoying his retirement at our stud.

"He was a favourite of all at Meringo Stud and we feel privileged to have looked after him.”

Naturalism won the group 1 AJC Derby, Rosehill Guineas and Caulfield Stakes and another eight black-type races. He fell in the 1992 Cox Plate but recovered to run a close second in the Japan Cup that year. Naturalism retired with 12 wins and 12 placings from 34 starts. Lee Freedman rated Naturalism as one of the five best horses he has trained.

"He was a brilliant horse and had the ability to run sensational sectionals," he said. "He should have won Super Impose's Cox Plate in 1992 and probably his greatest performance was his second in the Japan Cup as he wasn't really a 2400-metre horse."

Meanwhile, Chautauqua has taken an all-important step towards being reinstated to race, passing the first of two barrier tests in a jump-out at Flemington on Friday morning before sprinting past his rivals at the finish.

He failed to jump from the barriers on four occasions this year in trials.

Jockey Tommy Berry, and the rest of the gelding's connections, were relieved to see the $8.8 million earner jump with the field on Friday.

"He's his usual quirky self," Berry said.

"He was very good in the barriers. He was actually bouncing around in there which is usually what he's like.

"And he probably jumped the quickest he's ever jumped before I had to grab him and pull him back a bit at the start to get him to settle."

Berry has won five Group One races on Chautauqua and made a special trip back from Hong Kong for Friday's hit-out as connections left no stone unturned to ensure the sprinter did what was required.

Chautauqua still needs to pass another barrier test in a scheduled trial in Sydney on July 23.

"We're not out of the woods just yet but we're in a much better position than we were 20 minutes ago," co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said.

The Missile Stakes on August 4 is the likely return for Chautauqua if he gets through his next trial and Berry believes the gelding can be a force to be reckoned with again this spring, with The Everest a target.

"That was the best part about it," Berry said.

"I was just happy to see him jump but then to trial as well as he did, he's as good as he's ever felt.

"He doesn't feel like a rising eight-year-old. He feels like Chautauqua."

Hawkes said Chautauqua owed them nothing but said they would not have pressed on with him if they were not confident he was going to do it.

"I was actually hoping he would do it for himself," Hawkes said.

"We need horses like him. We need horses like Winx. These are great crowd pullers. Owners want racehorses like this and we want to train them and the public want to see them.

"I know he's seven and about to turn eight but he's only lightly raced. It will be some show if he can end up in the Everest and do something special there."