Talented filly Smart Melody is likely to tackle at least the early part of the Darley Princess Series as an early three-year-old. Unbeaten from only two starts and very impressive on both occasions – the latest at Canterbury on Wednesday over 1100m in midweek company – the Smart Missile youngster has concluded her current preparation.
“Because the spring isn’t too far away, she will have a break of only 10 days out at our Ellalong Farm,” Lees said. “I’m not sure at this stage what distance she will handle, but we will look at the first couple of races of the Princess Series against her own sex and take it from there.”
Those are the $200,000 Silver Shadow Stakes and $200,000 Furious Stakes. Both are Group 2 1200m events to be run at Royal Randwick on August 18 and September 1 respectively.
The remaining legs of the Princess Series also are scheduled for Royal Randwick; the $200,000 Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) and $500,000 Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) on September 15 and 29.
To date, only Angst (1993) and Lees’s former champ Samantha Miss (2008) have won all four legs of the series, though a number of fillies have won three legs.
And the format has been changed in recent years since its inception in 1989. It was previously staged at 1200m (Silver Shadow), 1400m (Furious), 1500m (Tea Rose) and 1600m (Flight).
Understandably, Lees is looking forward to testing Smart Melody in stronger company whilst at the same time pointing out it would be silly to start getting too carried away yet.
“She has been able to gallop right from the start, but I’d be lying if I said I thought she would do what she has already,” he said.
Lees has a number of acceptors at his home track meeting on Saturday, but has already withdrawn dual acceptor Wild Kingdom from both races. He is also considering bypassing the 1600m Benchmark 71 Handicap with Bochy and 1200m Benchmark 68 Handicap with Not Surprising because of poor draws.
These are his thoughts on his definite runners:
ANOTHER SONETTE (1400m Maiden Plate): “Placed at Muswellbrook last time at third start. Limited but this doesn’t look the strongest field and has advantage of Louise Day’s 3kg claim.”
ROTHMAN (900m 2YO Maiden Plate): “Rothesay two-year-old making his debut. Won 900m Scone trial earlier this month. Distance is probably too short, but expect him to run well.”
LA PONT (1400m Class 2 Handicap): “Good effort to win last start over this distance. Drawn well enough and should run well again.”
CLEVANICC (1600m Benchmark 71 Handicap): “Going well with seconds at his last two runs at Quirindi and Taree and drops 2kg. Nicely drawn and a definite chance.”