Cox Plate winner Shamus Award’s younger brother Brabinger has had to overcome serious setbacks just to make it to the racetrack. Such has been his progress that he heads to town for his metropolitan debut at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday with an unbeaten record. Two wins from as many starts at home at Newcastle has convinced the colt’s trainer Kris Lees to give him the chance to make his mark in the “big smoke” in the Benchmark 76 Handicap (1200m).
Brabinger (Snitzel – Sunset Express) was bred by long-time Lees Racing clients Bob and Sue Hannon, who also bred Cox Plate and Australian Guineas winner Shamus Award, now at stud. A rising four-year-old, Brabinger did not race as a two-year-old and in fact belatedly began his racing career on April 28 when an impressive two and a half lengths’ winner of a 1200m Newcastle Maiden. He then jumped to Class 2 company and again did the job three weeks later on May 19 over the same course, scoring by more than two lengths. Lees this afternoon related the story of Brabinger’s battle to try to follow in big brother’s hoofbeats.
“Brabinger was in the 2016 Inglis Easter yearling sale, but x-rays revealed he had a sesamoid fracture,” Lees said. “He underwent an operation, and then when we gave him his first serious gallop, we found he was ‘gone in the wind’. Another operation was required, so the horse has done a terrific job to overcome those setbacks and show the ability he obviously has on the track.
“It’s a bigger step going from provincial races straight to a Saturday in town, but Brabinger is a nice horse and this is the right time to try it. He has trained on well, so Saturday’s race will give us a better guide on his potential.”
James McDonald will ride Brabinger (the butler in popular British sitcom To The Manor Born), and stablemate Chalmers, another three-year-old heading to town on the back of a recent tenacious home track victory. Chalmers, who runs in the Benchmark 76 Handicap (1500m), overcame an outside barrier and 61.5kg to snare a Benchmark 60 Handicap (1500m) on May 19, completing a four-win haul for Lees that day. The form was franked when runner-up Bringagem scored at Gosford today.
“He was certainly very tough that day, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t run well again despite the rise in class, especially from an inside draw this time,” Lees said.
Lees also runs Princess Posh and Our Gravano at Rosehill. Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire rides Princess Posh, lessening her weight to 59kg in the Benchmark 80 Handicap (1400m) against her own sex. Aaron Bullock rides New Zealander Our Gravano in the Benchmark 82 Handicap (1500m).
“Princess Posh was a little unlucky last time when third to I Am Serious over this course,” Lees said. “If she can get the right run, she will be in the finish again.”
Our Gravano had his first start for his new trainer when ninth to King Darci in a Benchmark 95 Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill on May 19.
“His run was alright that day because he didn’t have any luck having to race wide and still stuck on well,” he said. “He is down in class but obviously up in weight, and not to be overlooked.”