Kris Lees’s The TAB Everest hope Clearly Innocent is “nice and bright” a week out from his tilt at the $10m feature.
The six-year-old gelding clinched one of the final two slots in the 12-horse field with his strong-finishing third in last Saturday’s wfa Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick – the exact route of next Saturday’s inaugural race.
“Clearly Innocent will have his final serious gallop in the morning,” Lees said. “He might do a little bit more work on Tuesday morning, but he’s nice and bright and feeling well. I’m very happy with how he has progressed since last weekend.”
Hugh Bowman again partners Clearly Innocent, who has been successful at nine of his 17 starts. He has an excellent second-up record, winning twice and being placed once from four attempts.
Clearly Innocent had his first start since being transferred to Lees when a closing ninth (beaten only two and a half lengths) to stablemate Felines in the Hawkesbury Rush (1100m) in late April before bolting away with his second Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at the Scone carnival a fortnight later.
Whilst the news on Clearly Innocent is all good, Lees has pulled the pin on any further spring carnival engagements with stablemate Le Romain.
“His current preparation is over, and he will spell,” Lees said. Le Romain pulled up with a “dirty throat” after failing in Humidor’s Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 16, and was brought back to Newcastle.
Lees has two acceptors at Royal Randwick tomorrow – but may have only one starter. “Singing is very doubtful,” he said this morning. “I’ll check the track condition early in the morning, but at this stage it’s more likely I’ll keep him home.”
Singing is scheduled to carry 62kg (after apprentice Rachel King’s 1.5kg claim) in the Benchmark 90 Handicap (2000m). He has raced only once since resuming, when fifth to Destiny’s Kiss in the Listed Wyong Cup (2100m) on September 1.
There are already two withdrawals from the Randwick event, and only three horses – all prepared by Chris Waller – will be left if Singing does not take his place in the field.
Lees has opted to start Just Dreaming in the Benchmark 80 Handicap (1200m) in preference to the Port Macquarie Sprint (1200m) at today’s Cup meeting.
“She drew poorly at Port Macquarie, and also hasn’t drawn well at Randwick,” he said. “Hopefully, she might get a softer run on the bigger Randwick track.
“Just Dreaming did a terrific job last preparation, and has come back in good order. I feel she just might need this run tomorrow, and will take benefit from it.”
Now a four-year-old (by Snitzel), Just Dreaming has won four races and been placed three times from only nine starts.
She won consecutive races at Rosehill Gardens on June 3 and 17 and was rested after a close second to Insensata in a 3YO Benchmark 76 Handicap (1500m) there on July 1 under 58kg. Just Dreaming will carry the same tomorrow after King’s 1.5kg claim.