By Gary Harley
Kris Lees has four of the nine starters in Sunday’s $50,000 Sky Racing Spring Provincial Series Heat (1500m) at the Newcastle Racecourse this Sunday.
The race is the fourth qualifier in the inaugural Provincial Series which is for horses trained by provincial-based trainers. Three heats have already been run and won at Wyong, Kembla and Hawkesbury, with the final heat scheduled for Gosford on November 24.
The $150,000 Final will be run at Kembla Grange at their meeting on Saturday December 1.
Lees said after acceptances that he has four starters, Chalmers, High Power, I Am Awesome and Bochy, and he cannot split two of them.
“Chalmers and High Power I feel are my best chances in the race. I did expect a bit more from Chalmers first up at Rosehill. He made good ground late and the longer trip is definitely in his favour,'' he said.
"Chalmers has a good second up record and he races very well on his home track.
"High Power's first-up run at Randwick was okay. He needed the run and he also worked home nicely late. Again the 1500 metres suits him better and he has won two of three at Newcastle.
"I Am Awesome was good at Muswellbrook last start, but this is a stiff rise in class. Bochy probably needs another run.''
The premier trainer also accepted with Kedah (Race 1) and Mimic (Race 5).
“Kedah is very doubtful as I may keep her for the Kenso next Wednesday. Mimic won’t run, she will go to Scone on Monday,” Lees said on Thursday.
David Atkins' Plaisir and Kim Waugh’s King Hewitt were equal favourites when the markets were framed for the Provincial Series Heat.
Plaisir is moody but talented and he has a bad habit of walking out of the barriers lengths behind his rivals. First up at Kembla recently he was twelve lengths off the lead at one stage, only to go down by a length and a half.
Two of Plaisir's three wins have been at Newcastle.
King Hewitt has won two from six and is also a winner at Newcastle. He worked home nicely to finish fourth by less than two lengths from the winner on the Kensington track on October 31.
With odds-on favourite Kedah expected to miss the 900 Metre Class 2 Handicap, former jockey Peter Robl will saddle up the favourite Screen Shot. The three-year-old led all the way for an easy win at Kembla Grange two weeks ago.
Andrew Gibbons, fresh from notching his 50th win for the season, has three rides with Chalmers clearly the best of them.
Sydney trainer Mark Newnham will saddle up two favourites and both should win.
Scarlett Dream runs in the 1880 metre Class 1 & Maiden Plate after a brilliant Kembla win on November 6.
Proven Class steps out in the 1600 metre Maiden Handicap and is an odds-on favourite in only the filly’s third race start.