Le Romain is back in winkers as he chases a fourth Group 1 victory in Saturday’s $600,000 wfa All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick.
Kris Lees has decided to put the gear back on his classy four-year-old, who currently heads betting for the final feature sprint of the Sydney autumn carnival.
“I’ve used them on him only once before, and that was when he won the Cantala Stakes (1600m Group 1) at Flemington last spring,” Lees said today. “So far this preparation, I have kept putting the winkers back on him up my sleeve, and I feel Saturday’s race is the right time to reintroduce them.
Left: Le Romain (Hugh Bowman; blue, yellow sleeves) scores at Royal Randwick - prepare for a form turnaround this Saturday. Image by - Steve Hart Photographics
“He’s coming back in distance from the Doncaster Mile, and I’m sure it will help him be a bit more focused.”
Nothing went right for Le Romain (Hugh Bowman) when a beaten favourite behind all-the-way winner in the $3m Doncaster Mile on April 1, but the gelding’s autumn lead-up form before that Group 1 was outstanding, with two wins (one of them over Chautauqua in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes) followed by a second to champion Winx in the George Ryder Stakes.
“I sent him to Ellalong Farm for a few days after the Doncaster to freshen up, and it worked really well,” Lees said. “He put on a bit of weight and came back to the stables in great order. His work on Tuesday morning showed me that he is on track for the All Aged. I’m sure he will run very well.”
Lees feels Le Romain’s racing style will stand him in good stead for future weight-for-age assignments. Recent stable acquisition Clearly Innocent is not yet certain to make his debut for the stable in Saturday’s Group 3 Hall Mark Stakes (1200m).
Further overnight rain resulted in a “Heavy 9” rating for Randwick, and Lees is deferring a decision on a start for last year’s brilliant Country Championships Final winner (when prepared at Scone by Greg Bennett).
“The horse is going really well, but I don’t want to run him first-up on a really heavy track,” Lees said. “I might keep him for the Hawkesbury Rush (1100m) at their stand alone meeting in another fortnight.”
As with Le Romain, Lees also is putting winkers back on nine-year-old Slow Pace (Kathy O’Hara) in the Group 3 JRA Plate (2000m). The import isn’t the easiest horse to follow, but did win last year’s Listed Wyong Cup (2100m) – his only success in Australia – on a Heavy 10 surface.
“The heavy track will help,” Lees said. “He might be at least a place chance.”
Lees’s other Randwick representative is Knit ‘N’ Purl (Brenton Avdulla) in the Benchmark 81 Handicap (1200m). The mare has won at Randwick on heavy ground, and wasn’t far away when sixth to subsequent impressive Final winner Maryore in the Kembla Grange Provincial Championships qualifier run at Goulburn on March 23.
“She is going to need a bit of luck from an awkward draw, but is certainly capable of figuring in the finish,” Lees said.