Racing: Kris Lees-trained Graff remains favourite for the group 1 Golden Rose despite first career loss

PODIUM: Graff (far right) finishing second to Lean Mean Machine (centre) in the group 2 Run To The Rose at Rosehill on Saturday. Jonker (left) was third. Picture: AAP
PODIUM: Graff (far right) finishing second to Lean Mean Machine (centre) in the group 2 Run To The Rose at Rosehill on Saturday. Jonker (left) was third. Picture: AAP

Graff remains on top of the betting market for this month’s $1million, group 1 Golden Rose (1400 metres) despite the Kris Lees-trained colt being beaten for the first time.

The Newcastle-based three-year-old was paying $4.60 fixed odds according to the TAB website less than 24 hours after an impressive second in the group 2 Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday.  

Graff, which opened his career this year with three wins from as many starts including the group 3 San Domenico (1100m) at the same track a fortnight ago, was pipped by a fast-finishing Lean Mean Machine by 0.8 lengths.

Graff, which drew wide in barrier 11, will now return to the Sydney racecourse on September 22 with Lees taking confidence out of Saturday’s performance.

“Graff has pulled up well and will be ready to go in a fortnight,” Lees said.

“The fact he has tightened in the [Golden Rose] betting shows it was a good run. The tenacity was what impressed me most. Hopefully the track will be a touch firmer and the [barrier] draw will be all important again.”   

The Dave Atkins-trained Jonker, in the colt’s second start back from injury at the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast in January, was third in the Run To The Rose after leading for much of the trip.

Elsewhere and Lees saluted north in Queensland via five-year-old gelding Tawfiq Boy in the Benchmark 80 Handicap (1200m) at Doomben on Saturday.