Kris Lees will not shy away from putting Gem Song up against boom three-year-old The Autumn Sun after his impressive first-up win in the group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
Gem Song made it four wins in six starts in his first race since being a late scratching from the group 1 Caulfield Guineas last October because of an elevated temperature.
The Your Song colt, which was a close second in the listed Dulcify Quality last September, returned with a strong run down the rain-affected inside section for a half-length win with Jason Collett aboard on Saturday.
“It's good to see him win a stakes race for Gooree,” Lees said.
“He's a really nice colt, he's got a lot of upside.
“He's only had the one trial going into this race and I thought he was struggling coming to the corner but Jason switched back to the inside, where you didn't want to be, but he had no option and he really lengthened nice when he put him under pressure.
“There was a few things probably against him and I think he's going to be better suited when we stretch him out, as he did last preparation, so he's got plenty more to give this horse.”
Lees will target the group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill in two weeks with a view to the group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 9.
The Newcastle trainer won the Randwick Guineas with Le Romain in 2016 and was a narrow second with Invincible Gem in 2017.
This time around, the Chris Waller-trained The Autumn Sun stands in the way of Lees’ prospect. Already a three-time group 1 winner, The Autumn Sun is set to resume in the Hobartville.
“The Hobartville is where he's going to have to take on The Autumn Sun but that's probably unavoidable, and it is what it is,” Lees said.
He said there was “plenty of merit to the run” of Gem Song on Saturday but “he probably appreciated the soft ground”.
Also on Saturday, Raay Of Dreams won at Doomben to take Lees to 124 winners nationwide for the season.
The two-year-old filly, a $50,000 buy at the Inglis Classic Sales, took her earnings to $55,700 with victory over 1200m.
The $8.50 chance finished strongly to win 1-1/2 lengths over favourite Bigboyroy ($1.60).
Lees said Raay Of Dreams could have a crack at black-type racing in Sydney.
“She could race in two weeks up there or we bring her home and possibly try her in a better race,” he said.
“It's a big jump but she's done a great job for connections.”
Premier Queensland jockey Jeff Lloyd said he repaid connections of Raay Of Dreams with the victory.
Lloyd replaced Jim Byrne, who was injured last week.
"I reckon I might have been the undoing of Raay Of Dreams at the Sunshine Coast [two weeks ago] because I was able to hold my ground on Alligator Blood and put her in a worse position," Lloyd told AAP.
"I was able to get a nice trail behind the tearaway leader today and she was very strong at the finish."
Lees-trained Evalina finished well back in the $1 million Inglis Sprint (1100m) at Warwick Farm won by Fiesta. It was the same for Paul Perry’s Pandano in the $2 million Inglis Millennium won by Castelvecchio.
On Friday night at Canterbury, Lees had a winning double with Our Gravano and Clevanicc.
“We got the rain and both horses have a preference for soft ground and things fell in their favour,” he said.
He said Our Gravano may make the jump to Saturday metropolitan class next start but Clevanicc would probably stay in similar company.