There were double reasons to celebrate for the Kris Lees stable at Broadmeadow on Thursday. Lees’s Irish apprentice Louise Day clinched her first provincial triumph and in the process lifted her boss to 100 winners for the season; the fifth occasion he has topped the ton.
Day, 22, having only her second ride on the NSW provincial circuit, underlined her ability with a splendid performance to score on $8.50 chance Wahng Wah in the Benchmark 65 Handicap (1200m), beating English apprentice Rachel King on $2.90 favorite Exclamation.
Left: Irish jockey Louise Day - recorded Kris Lees's 100th winner for the season on Wahng Way. Picture by Steve White
Lees began the meeting on 98 winners, and edged closer to the century when $2 favorite Moonlight Waltz (Brenton Avdulla) beat stablemate Remodify ($9) in the Maiden Plate (900m). Then three races later Day produced a first-class ride to score on previously out-of-form Wahng Wah - who began her career by winning her first two starts and then being placed only once at her next eight - in a heat of the Rising Star series.
Resuming after a disappointing last campaign, Wahng Way was eased by Day from an awkward barrier and given time to settle. She started to make ground approaching the home turn and, rather than go wide, found room between runners in the straight.
Lees naturally was pleased to again reach 100 winners in a season, but in his typically unassuming manner preferred to focus on his apprentice’s provincial breakthrough.
“Louise should be very proud of that ride,” he said afterwards. “She has a good work ethic, and is a terrific trackwork rider. She will continue to improve her riding in races as she gets more opportunities.”
Day joined Lees Racing from the Ciaron Maher stable at Caulfield (she wasn’t able to ride in Victoria) after last year’s Melbourne Cup carnival. However, at present her visa does not allow her to ride either trackwork or in races in New South Wales for “outside” trainers.
At her first day of riding in Australia, Day scored on Wahng Way’s stablemate Face Like Thunder at a Tuncurry TAB meeting on March 11.