It's been more than two years since Andrew Gibbons rode in Sydney at a Saturday meeting and he jumped at the chance to do so again when Kris Lees offered him the mount on talented import Singing in the Listed Premier’s Cup (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Runner-up to stablemate and subsequent Group 1 winner Sense Of Occasion in last year’s race, the now eight-year-old Singing ($21 on TAB fixed odds) makes another return to try and notch an overdue success in his adopted country.
“I was undecided earlier in the week whether to start Singing on Saturday,” Lees said. “Andrew has done a lot of work on the horse and knows him well. He deserves the chance to ride him in town.”
Gibbons, Lees’s main provincial jockey, says his last Saturday ride in Sydney was on another Australian Bloodstock representative and former stablemate Hera. She started at $151 and was beaten only a half-length in Plucky Belle’s Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 14, 2015.
Injury has beset Singing’s career, resulting in him racing only 21 times for four wins and six placings. He has raced only six times since coming to Australia, for two seconds; one of them when narrowly beaten by his stablemate in the Premier’s Cup 12 months ago.
“There’s no doubt he is a good horse, and we haven’t seen the best of him here,” Lees said. “I’m happy with him so far this time in work. He won’t back up in next Friday’s Wyong Cup, but there’s a good chance he will run in the Newcastle Cup (2300m) on September 15 if he races well on Saturday.”
Skylight Glow ($5.50), one of Lees’s recent additions from James Cummings’s former Randwick stable, makes her debut for the stable at Rosehill in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m). Hugh Bowman will ride her, but she has to cope with the outside barrier in a field of 11 at her first start since finishing sixth to Jennifer Lynn in the Listed Hybrid Stakes (1400m) at the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington on November 1 last year.
Skylight Glow was placed in both the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) – run at Randwick – as a three-year-old last spring. Lees has given the mare two trials (she has been placed in both) for her return, and is looking forward to getting her back to the races.
“She ran well in quality races as a three-year-old, and is coming along nicely,” Lees said. “Saturday’s race will bring her on further, and I’m expecting her to be strong late. She is set for a nice preparation.”
Lees has three runners at his home track meeting on the Beaumont circuit, and feels Waimea Bay is the pick of the trio. The lightly-raced filly has Grant Buckley on board in the Maiden Plate (1150m).
At her only start, the All Too Hard three-year-old ran second – albeit beaten comfortably – to the talented Floki in a 1000m Maiden at Scone on August 8. “She ran into a smart one on debut, and has trained on well since,” Lees said.
He also runs former New Zealander Karavali (Nick Heywood) and Unbridled Power (Bobby El-Issa) in the Class 2 Handicap (1350m) against their own sex. Karavali, who showed promise at her first Australian preparation for Lees with three second placings (two of them in town) from as many starts, drops to 59kg after Heywood’s 1.5kg claim, whilst Unbridled Power is coming back in distance.
“Karavali might take a run or two to reach her peak, whilst Unbridled Power was a bit disappointing at Scone last time over 1600m, hence I am bringing her back to 1350m,” Lees said.