Multiple Group 1 winner Le Romain will have his final serious gallop on the new Broadmeadow course proper in the morning ahead of a clash with Winx at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Kris Lees has been delighted with the gelding’s progress since his tenacious Canterbury Stakes (1300m) victory over Chautauqua on a heavy Royal Randwick track on March 4, and has confirmed him as a definite starter in the $1m Group 1 wfa George Ryder Stakes (1500m).
The Canterbury Stakes was the four-year-old’s third Group 1 triumph following his wins in the Royal Randwick Guineas as a three-year-old 12 and then the Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last spring.
Glyn Schofield, unbeaten in two rides on Le Romain (including the Canterbury Stakes), partners Le Romain in a star-studded line-up.
Aside from Winx, who is chasing 16 wins in a row, Chautauqua, Black Heart Bart, Hauraki and Tosen Stardom have also been nominated.
Winx has been posted as an early $1.15 favorite, with Chautauqua at $8 and Le Romain $11.
The Australian Turf Club has extended entries – 11 horses have so far been nominated – for the George Ryder until 11am Tuesday.
Whilst Lees isn’t expecting an upset victory over the champion mare, he considers the Ryder necessary to finalise Le Romain’s preparation for the $3m Doncaster Mile a fortnight later at Randwick on 1 April.
Even a second placing ($190,000) would lift his earnings beyond $2m.
Lees has nominated three horses – Dal Cielo, Felines and Zestful – for Saturday’s $700,000 Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill, but will be watching the weather closely (more rain is forecast in Sydney) in the next 24 hours or so before acceptances are taken on Wednesday morning.
“At this stage Felines is likely to run, but that will depend on how the track is,” Lees said.
“Dal Cielo won’t run if it’s heavy and I’ll probably keep Zestful for the Birthday Card Stakes on the same program.”
The $150,000 Birthday Card (1200m) is a Group 3 event for fillies and mares, run under Quality conditions with a maximum topweight of 61kg. Danish Twist has pulled up well after her close third to Heavens Above in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill last Saturday.
“She went so close; it was a great run,” Lees said.
Danish Twist’s next target is the $1m Group 1 Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) – formerly Queen of the Turf Stakes – at Randwick on 8 April.
As with the Coolmore Classic, it is for fillies and mares, but will be run under weight-for-age conditions.