Kris Lees retains hope of gaining one of the last TAB Everest slots with Clearly Innocent, who resumes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The hulking six-year-old will make a last-ditch bid in the $500,000 Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) to clinch one of the few remaining spots in the $10m sprint to be run over the same course on October 14.
Hugh Bowman reunites with Clearly Innocent in Saturday’s weight-for-age Premiere.
Lees concedes the gelding’s Everest chances are definitely on the line at his resumption. “Clearly Innocent is in great order, and is at his best on the big tracks such as Randwick,” Lees said this afternoon.
“If he runs well on Saturday, and I’m confident he will, I think he’ll be right to get a slot in The Everest.”
Clearly Innocent’s credentials cannot be denied. The winner of nine of his 16 starts, he powered to a maiden Group 1 victory in the wfa Kingsford-Smith Stakes (1300m) on the much-maligned Eagle Farm track (currently closed) on May 27.
Bowman rode him then, and also in another stunning performance prior to that when clinching a second Listed Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at the Scone carnival a fortnight earlier.
Bowman was also in the saddle at Clearly Innocent’s last outing when he drew poorly and was responsible for another huge effort to come from well back and finish third to Impending in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) on the smaller Doomben circuit on June 10.
When prepared at Scone by Greg Bennett, Clearly Innocent burst home from 13th at the 800m to outclass his rivals in the 2016 Country Championships Final (1400m) at Randwick.
Thirteen horses have been entered for the Premiere, with the Australian Turf Club extending nominations until 11am tomorrow.
Lees, meanwhile, has confirmed Corey Brown’s booking for Cameron Handicap runner-up Sound Proposition in Saturday’s $1m Epsom (1600m) at Randwick.
The former New Zealander will be his sole representative in the Group 1 feature.
“Sound Proposition has trained on well since the Cameron last Friday week,” Lees said.
Sound Proposition carried 59kg in the Group 3 Cameron (1500m) at Newcastle, and was just caught in record time by the lesser-weighted roughie Got Unders, to whom he conceded 5kg.
He drops to 53.5kg on Saturday, and is already a winner twice at Randwick, including one over the Epsom route.
Brown also will partner his Doomben Cup winner Sense Of Occasion in Saturday’s $500,000 Group 2 Hill Stakes (1800m), for which there are 17 entries.
Lees had toyed with an Epsom start, but feels the gelding is better placed in the slightly longer race under weight-for-age conditions.
Last Saturday’s Rosehill Gardens runner-up Admiral Jello won’t back up in Saturday’s Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m), leaving his trainer without a runner.
“It looks like being a small field, which made me think about starting him, but I have decided not to accept with him,” Lees said.
Danish Twist, a gallant fourth in last Saturday’s Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) at Rosehill, will have her next start in Melbourne.
That will be in the Group 2 Tristarc Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on October 21 (Caulfield Cup day). The Tristarc is for mares and run under set weights and penalties conditions.