Understandably rapt to get a TAB Everest slot, Kris Lees is predicting further improvement from Clearly Innocent for Saturday week’s $10m feature.
Jadeskye Racing’s Damion Flower has finalised a deal with Clearly Innocent’s owner Bruce Neill for the six-year-old to take one of the last two positions in the field for the 1200m sprint at Royal Randwick.
“It’s great news, and terrific to have a runner in the inaugural race,” a delighted Lees said. “Clearly Innocent has pulled up really well from his first-up run at Randwick on Saturday, and he will improve a lot. I’m looking forward to running him on Saturday week.”
Hugh Bowman partnered the gelding in his excellent third to fellow Novocastrian In Her Time in Saturday’s $500,000 Group 2 wfa Premiere Stakes (1200m), and stays on him in The TAB Everest.
Clearly Innocent took great improvement from his first run for Lees (after previously being prepared at Scone by Greg Bennett) in late autumn. After finishing ninth to stablemate Felines in the Hawkesbury Rush (1100m) at the Metropolitan stand-alone meeting, he brilliantly won his second Listed Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at the Scone carnival a fortnight later.
He then also bolted away with the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm a fortnight after Scone. Bowman was aboard in both those victories. Clearly Innocent has won nine of his 17 starts, and earned prizemoney of $1.23m.
But that will be well and truly overshadowed if he can snare the $5.8m first prize by winning The TAB Everest. The 12 Everest runners were finalised with Coolmore also announcing they will be represented by their three-year-old filly Tulip, who finished third to ruling favorite She Will Reign in the Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens in March.
Clearly Innocent is currently at $11 with TAB.com.au. She Will Reign is at $4.60, ahead of Chautauqua and Tulip’s stablemate Vega Magic ($6).
Meanwhile, Clearly Innocent’s stablemate Sound Proposition has also come through his game fifth to Happy Clapper in Saturday’s $1m Group 1 TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick without any problems.
“He ran as well as he could have and certainly wasn’t disgraced,” Lees said. “I’ll run him next in either the Craven Plate at Randwick or wait another fortnight for the Crystal Mile in Melbourne.”
The $500,000 Group 3 wfa Craven Plate (2000m) will be run on the same program as The TAB Everest, whilst the $200,000 Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) – also a wfa contest – is held on the same program as the Group 1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 28.
Lees is baffled by Doomben Cup winner Sense Of Occasion’s lacklustre eighth (beating only one home) in Classic Uniform’s Group 2 wfa Hill Stakes (1800m) at Randwick.
“He was very disappointing, but I can’t find anything amiss with him,” he said. “Perhaps he may not have come up this campaign. I’ll monitor him closely in the next few days and then make a decision about his immediate program.”