No 12 is in the bag. Now it’s up to Danish Twist to clinch the “devil’s number” at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Kris Lees notched the 12th Group 1 success of his career with Le Romain’s $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) victory at Royal Randwick last Saturday, and has called on the gelding’s jockey Glyn Schofield to help him extend that to 13 in the $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m).
Lees this afternoon confirmed Schofield as Danish Twist’s rider in the feature fillies and mares’ event, and also again on Le Romain in the $1m Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at the same track a week later.
Hugh Bowman, who won last spring’s Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington and also the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) on the brilliant four-year-old when resuming at Randwick on February 13, is committed to champion mare Winx in the Ryder.
Le Romain, now a thrice Group 1 winner, lifted his imposing record to six wins and seven placings from only 15 starts when he nosed out Chautaqua in the Canterbury Stakes. In the process, his earnings soared closer to the $2m mark ($1,882,075).
Lees said Le Romain had pulled up well after Saturday’s heart-stopping win on a heavy track.
After the George Ryder, he has another very important Group 1 assignment in the $3m Doncaster Mile at Randwick on April 1. He has 55.5kg in that feature and cannot be penalised as the Canterbury Stakes was run at weight-for-age.
Lees is understandably prepared to ignore Danish Twist’s last start failure on heavy ground in the Group 2 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 25 to give her the opportunity to make her mark in Group 1 company.
“Nothing went right for her that day,” Lees said. “She overraced with the slow tempo and found it impossible to make up ground.”
Like Le Romain, Danish Twist has an impressive record. She has raced 23 times for eight wins (including last year’s Provincial Championships Final) and seven placings.
Lees also has imports Singing and Slow Pace entered for Saturday’s Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m). If he decides to start both, he is unlikely to have a runner in the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket (1400m) when the first entire meeting on Broadmeadow’s new course proper is held on Friday week.
Meanwhile, Invincible Gem, who went so close to giving Lees a Group 1 double at Randwick last Saturday when just caught in the Randwick Guineas (1600m), is having a few easy days.
“I’m not sure what we will do with her in the immediate future,” Lees said. “She has done an amazing job this preparation and deserves a spell but we’ll keep an eye on her over the next few days and decide what to do.”