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Lees Eyes Doncaster With Fresh Sense Of Occasion

Kris Lees will attempt to win Australia’s greatest 1600m race first-up with Sense Of Occasion.

Lees this morning announced the gelding will go into the $3m Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick on April 1 during The Championships without a recent preparatory start.

He successfully employed a similar plan by winning the $250,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes with Sense Of Occasion over the Doncaster course on 17 December last year.

The Villiers victory guaranteed the six-year-old a berth in the Doncaster line-up.

Sense Of Occasion followed his Villiers’ triumph – when he came from last and beat imports Dibayani and Sarrasin - with a second placing to Red Excitement in the Listed Gosford Gold Cup (2100m) on January 13, then was rested.

He again showed his liking for rain-affected ground by winning a 1200m barrier trial, with Aaron Bullock aboard, at Wyong on Monday.

“I thought about starting Sense Of Occasion again before the Doncaster, but decided to run him first-up,” Lees said. .

“Obviously this is going to be a tougher assignment than the Villiers, but he races well fresh, so we’ll give it another try.”

Sense Of Occasion was eased after finishing fourth to Junoob in the City Tattersalls Cup (2400m) at Randwick on 15 October, and also won a 1200m Gosford trial 12 days before his barnstorming Villiers performance.

The gelding has been successful at three of his seven first-up essays.

Lees already holds a strong Doncaster hand with dual Group 1 winner Le Romain, who will continue his current campaign in Saturday’s Group 1 wfa Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick.

Singing, who also trialled at Wyong on Monday (sixth to stablemate Powerline over 1000m), is likely to resume his racing career at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday week.

The French import’s career has been plagued by injury. He has raced only 18 times for four wins and six placings.

Singing hasn’t started since being injured when seventh to Sacred Master in the Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2200m) on the Beaumont track on 16 September. He won a 1200m trial on Broadmeadow’s new course proper on 25 January, and his trainer will be happy just to get him back to the races.

Guard Of Honour is back home after finishing 11th to Sheidel in last Saturday’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield.

The three-year-old was forced to race wide from an awkward draw and, in the circumstances, ran creditably at his first start against older horses at racing’s elite level.

“At this stage, we’ll look to get him ready for a race toward the end of the Sydney autumn carnival,” Lees said.

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