Kris Lees has warned punters not to underestimate Invincible Gem when she makes her comeback at Royal Randwick on Saturday. Lees holds a strong hand in the $500,000 wfa Canterbury Stakes (1300m) with Invincible Gem (Corey Brown) and current pre-post favorite Clearly Innocent (Hugh Bowman).
He won the Group 1 sprint last year with Le Romain (Glyn Schofield) who edged out Chautauqua in a thrilling finish. In an open race, Clearly Innocent late this afternoon just held TAB fixed odds favouritism at $4.80, with Invincible Gem at $6.50.
“Clearly Innocent was unlucky first-up and the three weeks’ break between runs suits him,” Lees said.
“He appears to be coming up nicely, and Hugh (Bowman) knows the horse well and has a good record on him.
“By the same token, I wouldn’t underestimate Invincible Gem. She is a very good mare and beat Le Romain first-up in the Missile Stakes (1200m Group 2) at Randwick last August.
The 1300m at her first run back might just find her out, but she will give a good sight.”
Invincible Gem was in brilliant form this time last year, capturing the Group 3 NJC Spring Stakes (1600m) run at Randwick and then was just run down by Inference in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas over the same route.
The now four-year-old mare was struck by a compaction of the bowel after finishing third to subsequent Group 1 Epsom winner Happy Clapper in the Group 2 Tramway (1400m) at Randwick on September 2, and underwent surgery. She has trialled pleasingly twice for her return, beating Uptown Lad and her stablemate Sugar Bella over 1000m at Gosford on February 28.
Sugar Bella (Jason Collett, $3 fav) attempts to make it four wins from as many starts for her new trainer when she steps up to black type company in the Group 3 Wenona Girl Quality (1200m) against her own sex at Randwick.
“It is a big jump from what she has been doing, but is a black type winner in waiting,” Lees said. “I’m sure she is good enough to win a stakes race. Whether it is this Saturday, we’ll just have to wait and see!”
Lees likes the chances of former New Zealand mare Karavali (Collett, $6.50) in the Group 3 Aspiration Quality (1600m): “She hit the line strongly first-up at Canterbury when second over 1550m, and was a Randwick winner over 2000m last preparation on soft ground,” he said. “Any more rain would definitely strengthen her prospects.”
Lees accepted with both Singing (Schofield, $10) and Admiral Jello (Collett, $26) in the Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m), but is likely to rely on the former and send the latter to Canberra for Sunday’s 2000m Cup.
After three brilliant wins on the trot (including the Gosford Gold Cup) over summer, Singing pulled up with cardiac arrhythmia at Rosehill at his last start, but recovered quickly and was cleared by stewards after trialling at Gosford (second to Shiraz over 1000m) on February 28. “Obviously, you have to take him on trust, but he trialled really well at Gosford and I can’t fault his subsequent work,” Lees said.