By Julieanne Horsman
Kris Lees will have two runners in the Provincial Championships Final after Clevedon Bay took out the last heat at Newcastle this afternoon.
Under the guidance of Brenton Avdulla, the mare pushed up the middle and shot away to snatch victory from Calabasas (Blake Shinn) and Pacific Reign (Jason Collett).
“She let down really well,” winning trainer Kris Lees said.
“She has been racing consistently but with big weight and this was a good opportunity for her to carry a lighter weight.
“She is not without chance in the final.”
Jockey Brenton Avdulla went into the race with a high opinion of Clevedon Bay.
“I’ve had a bit to do with her and I thought she was due for a win,” he said.
“I followed Blake (Shinn) through and he took me where I needed to go and then Clevedon Bay took off.
“It was great to get the win for Kris as he has been so supportive of me.”
Clevedon Bay will join stablemate Princess Posh, who came 3rd in the Wyong heat, in the final.
Today’s runner-up, Calabasas, was forced to travel four-wide after jumping from a bad barrier (11) but Blake Shinn was able to manoeuvre him into the clear where he flew home to be beaten by a head.
“It was a beautiful run and Blake rode him a treat,” trainer Kim Waugh said.
“He was second up today and it was a month between runs because I kept scratching him due to wet tracks.
“He’s only three and was up against older horses so I think he will keep improving.
“I was so proud of him today.”
Outside chance Pacific Reign, who was 101 to 1 with on course bookmakers, rounded out the placings and earned the last berth in the final. She led most of the way and was pipped at the post.
“She ran out of her skin,” trainer David Atkins said.
A field of 15 will line up in the $400,000 Provincial Championship Final on Saturday, 8 April.