Defending Provincial Championships titleholder Kris Lees feels this week’s rain has boosted the chances of Knit ‘N’ Purl in tomorrow’s second $150,000 qualifier at Hawkesbury tomorrow.
Lees, who has already qualified last week’s third placegetter Princess Posh from the opening heat of the 2017 series at Wyong, has four acceptors in a bid to strengthen his chances of again winning the $400,000 final at Royal Randwick on April 8.
At this stage, he is running all four – Lomazzo (Blake Shinn), Reach For Heaven (Kerrin McEvoy), Knit ‘N’ Purl (Brenton Avdulla) and Star Reflection (Josh Parr) – on a surface which this morning was downgraded to a “Heavy 8”.
With more rain forecast, course manager Jeff Haynes is not anticipating any improvement in that rating.
Lees, who qualified eight of the 15 starters in last year’s final and landed the quinella (Danish Twist from Powerline), this morning said the conditions would suit proven wet tracker Knit ‘N’ Purl, who has won two of her three starts to date on heavy ground.
“She is racing well, and would have to be the pick of my runners given the circumstances,” he said.
Knit ‘N’ Purl easily beat her own sex over 1200m at Randwick last August in a Benchmark 83 on a “Heavy 10”, and has been placed at her last two starts at that track.
At her last run, fortune didn’t go her way when an unlucky third to Your Way in a Benchmark 85 Handicap (1200m) on February 13.
Your Way confirmed the form by scoring again at the same track last Saturday. Whilst Lees is leaning toward Knit ‘N’ Purl, he has made important gear changes on both Reach For Heaven and Star Reflection.
Blinkers go on both horses, whilst winkers come off Star Reflection at the same time.
“Reach For Heaven is racing well, but I’m hoping the blinkers will help him finish off his races better,” Lees explained.
“It’s a subtle change with Star Reflection and perhaps her outside alley (15) might not be such a disadvantage in view of the heavy track.”
Reach For Heaven has been thereabouts at all three starts this preparation, and finished second to front-runner Nothing Box in a Benchmark 67 Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens last Wednesday.
Star Reflection, also a heavy track winner, scored on the Beaumont track on January 21 in a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1350m) before finishing fifth to Shotgun Roulette (runner-up in last Sunday’s Country Championships qualifier at Taree) in the Queen Of The North (1200m) at Port Macquarie on February 3.
Lees’ other Hawkesbury representative Lomazzo has been runner-up at his last two starts (in the Country Cup at the Magic Millions meeting at the Gold Coast on January 14 and with 60.5kg on the Beaumont track on February 16).
He has been placed twice from three heavy track assignments.
“Lomazzo is honest and will give himself every chance by putting himself on the speed,” Lees said.
Talented Hawkesbury three-year-old Generalissimo is the current $3.50 favorite with TAB.com.au and importantly has won on heavy ground at home. He scored in a Class 2 Handicap (1000m) there last September at only his third start, and all his racing has indicated that 1400m will really suit him.
The rail is in the TRUE position, and the track earlier this morning was posted as a “Heavy 8”, with more rain predicted. The penetrometer reading was 5.59.
Selections are: RACE 1: MEDAL KUN, Ace High, Euro Gold. RACE 2: GITAN, Every Chance, Drachenfels. RACE 3: ARCHANGEL, Perfect Rhyme, Fleeteor. RACE 4: RED HEARTS, Sleek, San Pablo. RACE 5: BASTIA, Identic, Good Verdict. RACE 6: LA CHATTE, Joy Forever, High Impulse. RACE 7: REACH FOR HEAVEN, Knit ‘N’ Purl, Generalissimo. RACE 8: MELBERRA STAR, Drill Master, Garbhan. SPECIALS: REACH FOR HEAVEN, LA CHATTE, MEDAL KUN