Kris Lees has called on the jockey who provided him with a Group 1 breakthrough to strengthen his hand in The Star Doncaster Mile.
Lees this morning confirmed he has booked Corey Brown to partner Sense Of Occasion in next Saturday’s 1600m Group 1 feature on the opening day of The Championships at Royal Randwick.
The Villiers Stakes winner tackles the Doncaster first-up, and joins stablemate Le Romain (Hugh Bowman), the ruling favorite for Australia’s premier “mile” handicap. Brown gave Lees the first of his 12 successes at racing’s elite level when he won the 2004 The Metropolitan at Randwick on former stable stalwart County Tyrone.
He also was aboard County Tyrone when the gelding won the 2002 Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm; the final of Lees’s late father Max’s 20 Group 1 victories.
Lees is attempting a similar scenario – though obviously a more difficult assignment – with Sense Of Occasion as when he won the Group 2 Villiers first-up over the Doncaster route last December. The six-year-old, who has won seven of his 30 starts, has not started since finishing second to Red Excitement in the Listed Gosford Gold Cup (2100m) on January 13.
Below: Sense of Occasion - will have a new rider in Corey Brown. Image by - Steve Hart Photographics
Accomplished wet tracker Sense Of Occasion has trialled twice – both at Wyong on heavy ground – in preparation for his Doncaster tilt. He won a 1200m trial on February 27, and then finished fifth to Ravi two days ago over a shorter 1000m.
“I was satisfied with how he trialled on Wednesday,” Lees said. “He is ready to go back to the races, but of course the Doncaster is never an easy race to win.”
Le Romain, who has contributed three of Lees’s 12 Group 1s, has pleased his trainer since his second to champion mare Winx in last Saturday’s George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.
As is the case with his Sydney runners, the next 24 hours will determine plans for Lees’s acceptors at home on the Beaumont track tomorrow. Both Princess Posh (Andrew Gibbons) and Rosa Carolina (Aaron Bullock) are in the Class 2 Handicap (1150m) against their own sex.
Princess Posh is also an acceptor for the $35,000 Showcase Handicap (1280m) at Sunday’s Country Championships Wildcard meeting at Muswellbrook, which will now be held at Scone because of the wet weather..
The three-year-old filly clinched a berth in the $400,000 Provincial Championships Final (1400m) at Randwick on April 8 by finishing third to Noble Joey in the opening qualifier at Wyong on February 23. She hasn’t raced since, and Lees wants to start her again before contesting the final.
Princess Posh has 60kg at the Beaumont meeting (rated a Heavy 8 this morning), and 54kg against stronger company at Scone.
“I’ll wait and see what happens with the weather in Newcastle,” Lees said. “I’m not sure about running Rosa Carolina here either on a heavy track.”
Lees is putting a tongue tie on Tawfiq Boy (Gibbons) in tomorrow’s Class 2 Handicap (1200m) against his own sex. The three-year-old also was an acceptor for Taree today, but rain put a stop to that fixture proceeding.
Tawfiq Boy was solidly backed on resumption when third to Grammar School in a Benchmark 65 Handicap (1000m) at Taree on February 26. He began awkwardly and overraced during the early and middle stages.
Unraced Savabeel filly Paeonia is due to make her debut, with stable apprentice Louise Day aboard, in the 3YO Maiden Plate (1100m), but Lees is uncertain at this stage whether he will start her on a heavy track.