Winx’s jockey Hugh Bowman will be in the corner of trainer Kris Lees this time when Clearly Innocent runs at Royal Randwick on Saturday. The Doncaster Mile hopeful will be reunited with Bowman in the $500,000 Group 1 wfa Canterbury Stakes (1300m).
Lees had to be content with Prized Icon (Glyn Schofield) finishing a distant second to the champion mare in last Saturday’s Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.
He nominated Clearly Innocent also for the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket (1400m) at home on Friday, but has confirmed the Canterbury Stakes – which he won last year with Le Romain – as the gelding’s weekend mission.
Clearly Innocent was today allotted 60.5kg in the Newmarket, with last year’s winner Happy Clapper (also a Canterbury Stakes entrant) topweight with 62kg.
Bowman was on the sidelines when Clearly Innocent, with Jason Collett aboard, resumed with a strong-finishing sixth to Kaepernick in the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 17 after being stopped in his tracks at a vital stage in the straight.
Bowman has ridden the six-year-old five times for two wins – one of them the Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm last May – and placings in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben and Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick last June and September respectively.
He also rode Clearly Innocent when eighth to Redzel in the inaugural The Everest (1200m) at Randwick the following month.
Lees is keen to test the gelding at 1600m this campaign, and has aimed his preparation at the $3m The Star Doncaster Mile at Randwick on April 7. His final Doncaster lead-up will be the $1m Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 24 when Lees will have to seek a replacement rider as that race is Winx’s next assignment.
Lees nominated three horses for Friday’s Newmarket, and will definitely run Sound Proposition (58kg) and perhaps Artlee (54kg limit). Sound Proposition, after Randwick 1600m and 1800m victories last winter, was freshened and finished a close second to roughie Got Unders (conceding 5kg) in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle last September.
He then ran fifth in Happy Clapper’s Group 1 Epsom (1600m) at Randwick and fourth in Lucky Hussler’s Group 2 Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley before spelling.
“Sound Proposition has trialled twice and is ready to begin a new campaign in the Newmarket,” Lees said. “There’s a possibility I could also run Artlee. I’ll see how he progresses in the next couple of days.” Artlee, having only his second run after a long layoff, loomed up in the straight in last Saturday’s Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) at Randwick before finishing eighth to Crack Me Up.
Meanwhile, Lees has decided not to send Prized Icon to Melbourne for Saturday’s $1.5m Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington: “We gave it some thought, but I wasn’t comfortable putting him on a float and backing him up after he chased Winx home last Saturday,” Lees said.
“Like Clearly Innocent, Prized Icon will be aimed at the Doncaster Mile. His next run will be at Rosehill Gardens in either the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) on Saturday week or the Group 2 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) a week later.”