By Tony Megahey
Kris Lees rides the momentum of Group glory and numerous weekend winners statewide into Tamworth’s seven-race TAB meeting amidst heavy conditions on Tuesday.
After his recent record season, Lees is developing career-defining talents. Brilliant colt Graff dominated the Group 3 ($150,000 San Domenico Stakes 1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday and is set for similar heights along with unbeaten three-year-olds, Smart Melody and Gem Song, and the highly-rated John Singleton staying bred filly, Miss Fabulass. Stable star Le Romain won the Group 3 Show County at Royal Randwick previously.
Lees’s enviable task now is programming his precocious three-year-old talents to avoid clashing in upcoming age classics.
“It's early days but exciting times and Graff is the best colt I’ve had anything to do with,” Lees enthused as he assessed four of his far lesser-tiered country gallopers at Tamworth.
“Bear in mind it’s a heavy 10 and that’s always an unknown with the lightly-raced and lesser-experienced,” Lees said.
The stable won races at Rosehill Gardens, Newcastle, the Sunshine Coast and Wyong over the weekend.
At Tamworth, thrice-winning mare Hermosa Reward offers the most convincing form of Lees’s five contenders at the popular track that has attracted capacity fields.
Hermosa Reward is coming off dominant wins at Kempsey over 1450m and Scone (1600m) into a Carlton Mid Class 3 (1600m) where her 59kg is reduced by the 1.5kg claim for Lees’ Irish apprentice Louise Day.
“In both her wins she has closed off really strong; that’s the plus in these conditions providing she gets through them. If she keeps progressing a city midweek is a possibility.”
Well-bred Snitzel filly Londinium contests a Cellarbrations Maiden (1400m) to be ridden by stable jockey Andrew Gibbons: “She’s only had the two runs and a couple of trials; she’s progressive, back from provincial grade at Newcastle and her Wyong placings were solid. Again providing she handles the heavy,” Lees offered.
Consistent One Invincible Cat contests the Corey’s Catering BM 58 (1200m): “Now that’s she broken through she can go on with it, you can’t fault her consistency and she’s been placed on soft going.”
After he frustration of seven successive placings, she was a comfortable winner of a Quirindi Maiden three weeks ago. And the mare has been placed in provincial grade at Gosford.
Finally, Lees is represented by dual-race winning mare Prontissimo in the Duri Peak BM 66 (1400m) to be ridden by Gibbons: “She’s race-fit and running into some form again and she’s always shown us ability - she’ll be competitive in a suitable race.”
Tamworth at present is rated a heavy ten track in fine weather.