Kris Lees is giving Rosa Carolina a great chance of becoming only the third filly in the last decade to win the $200,000 Blacktown Workers Club Hawkesbury Guineas tomorrow.
The New Zealand-owned filly, who races in the same colours as her trainer’s now retired star Lucia Valentina, has been largely overlooked in pre-post discussions on the 1400m Group 3 feature.
“I’m giving her a great chance,” Lees said today.
“The field isn’t that much stronger than her last start at Randwick when she was just pipped (by Generalissimo), and she has trained on strongly.”
Christian Reith rode Rosa Carolina in her photo-finish second to Generalissimo in the Listed South Pacific Classic (1400m) on day two of The Championships and has the mount again tomorrow. Third placegetter, Siren’s Fury, was subsequently placed in a $100,000 Listed race over 1600m at Doomben last Saturday.
Lees’ filly drew awkwardly at Randwick and was brave in defeat. She meets Generalissimo on the same terms tomorrow.
Colts and geldings have dominated the last 10 runnings of the Hawkesbury Guineas, including the brilliant Chautauqua’s success in 2014. The only fillies to win in that period were Alverta (2007) and Najoom (2015, when the race was subsequently run at Rosehill Gardens as the Hawkesbury meeting was called off after only one race had been run).
Lees, who won the Ladies Day Cup with Danish Twist at last year’s standalone meeting, has six runners at Hawkesbury. They include a trio – Felines, Clearly Innocent and Brook Road – in the XXXX Gold Rush (1100m).
“I would have preferred not to run all three in the same race, but it is just the way it has worked out,” Lees said.
“Felines was to have raced at Doomben recently but drew poorly and we kept her at home, whilst I didn’t want to risk Clearly Innocent first-up on a heavy track at Randwick a fortnight ago.
“All three have chances; it’s hard to have a real preference.
“Felines always is sharp at this distance, is drawn nicely and is dropping back from Group company.
“Clearly Innocent is going well, but has an awkward barrier and may find the 1100m a bit short at his first run for me.
“Brook Road is very capable on her day, and has won several times previously when fresh.” Hugh Bowman partners Felines, Corey Brown rides Clearly Innocent and Brenton Avdulla has the Brook Road mount.
Lees also runs last start Canterbury winner Beretta (Avdulla) in the All State Shopfitting Benchmark 78 Handicap (1500m), but concedes this is a tougher assignment.
“He is always a chance in these races, but much is going to depend on the way it is run,” he said. “Beretta was able to get into a lovely rhythm when he led and won at Canterbury last week over 1550m.”
Feelin The Love (Avdulla) is Lees’ other representative, in the Blakes Marine Benchmark 85 Handicap (1300m). The much-travelled mare scored first-up for her new trainer at Broadmeadow on March 17 before finishing fifth in midweek company against her own sex at Warwick Farm on April 5.
“Feelin The Love has drawn awkwardly and is going to need luck in a tough race,” Lees said. “She has a place chance at big odds.”