Dual Group 1 winner, Le Romain, will begin his quest for a Doncaster Mile during The Championships at Royal Randwick when he kicks off on February 11.
Kris Lees has the choice of two races for the four-year-old’s resumption – the Group 2 wfa Apollo Stakes (1400m) and Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m). At this stage, he is favouring running in the shorter race. The $250,000 Apollo is run under weight-for-age conditions, whilst the Southern Cross is a Quality handicap with a maximum topweight of 62kg.
Le Romain enjoyed a nice break at Lees’s Ellalong Farm in the Lower Hunter after winning the Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington in late October on the opening day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.
Lees resisted backing up the gelding a week later in the $2m Group 1 wfa Emirates Stakes (2000m), something which surely was tempting, especially when stablemate Lucia Valentina was retired five days before the race. However, he wanted to ensure Le Romain had a good rest with a view to chasing a third Group 1 success at 1600m.
Left: Le Romain wins the Randwick Guineas. Image by - Bradley Photographers
Le Romain, as a three-year-old, beat his own age in the Randwick Guineas in March over the Doncaster course. The $3m Doncaster Mile will be run at Randwick on April 1.
“Le Romain spelled really well, and is in great order,” Lees said. “He has started working at even time at Broadmeadow, and will be ready to resume at Randwick on February 11.”
Lees decided against sending Sense Of Occasion to Brisbane for last Saturday’s $250,000 Listed Bernborough Quality (1600m) at Eagle Farm. As the winner of the Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 17, the six-year-old would have collected a $100,000 bonus by winning again in Brisbane.
Instead, Lees opted to stay at home and run Sense Of Occasion next in the $150,000 Group 3 Gosford Gold Cup (2100m).
“I don’t like changing plans,” Lees said. “Sense Of Occasion will run at Gosford and then go to the paddock. Then we’ll get him ready for the Doncaster. By winning the Villiers, he is already assured of a place in the field.
“A race such as the Doncaster might be beyond him, but who knows what might happen if we get rain leading up to the race.”
Last season’s Provincial Championships winner Danish Twist is also back in work and being aimed at the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) against her own sex at Rosehill Gardens on March 11. As with Le Romain, the mare is likely to also resume at Randwick on February 11, in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m).
Talented young sprinter Guard Of Honour will trial again before resuming against his own age at Randwick on January 21 in the Wilkes Quality (1000m). Guard Of Honour was ridden from behind and ran home strongly when a close second in an 845m barrier trial at Wyong last week.
“We know he’s got speed, but it’s hard to win these better races by leading throughout,” Lees said. “We’re teaching him to relax, and add another string to his bow.”
Le Romain won the Wilkes first-up this year and three races later upset hotpot Press Statement in the Randwick Guineas.