Kris Lees is banking on Just Dreaming’s near flawless second-up record lifting her back into winning form at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Last season’s Sydney premiership gun Brenton Avdulla rides Just Dreaming for the first time in the Robrick Lodge Filante Handicap (1400m).
From four second-up appearances, the five-year-old mare has won three times and finished a close second to another talented mare I Am Serious (conceding her 3.5kg) on the other occasion.
Just Dreaming began a new campaign when she made the running on a Heavy 8 surface and finished third to Queenslander Doubt Defying in a similar race at Randwick on October 6.
The Snitzel’s mare outstanding second-up record along with Avdulla’s booking hasn’t been missed by TAB.com.au bookmakers. She was a $2.20 fixed odds favourite earlier today.
“Just Dreaming is coming up well this preparation, and goes to the races on Saturday ready to win,” Kris Lees said this morning. “Her second-up record is reflected in the market, and I’m sure she will take beating.”
Avdulla also rides stablemate Evalina, another with strong prospects in the 2019 Membership Handicap (1400m) for three-year-olds.
The I Am Invincible filly, who races in owner Lib Petagna’s Lucia Valentina colours, was responsible for an outstanding performance on a Heavy 9 at Randwick on October 13 when narrowly beaten by I Like It Easy in the Listed Reginald Allen Quality (1400m) against her own sex. She was slowly away and made up many lengths, surging late and just failing to overhaul the winner.
That followed a breakthrough 1200m maiden victory at Wyong on September 23, when Avdulla rode her.
“Her Randwick run was huge, and she has trained on strongly since,” Lees said. “She is against the boys this time, but I expect her to run well all the same.”
Lees accepted with both Tawfiq Boy and Powerline in the Spring Racing Handicap (1200m), but has withdrawn the former because of his wide draw. Instead, he will rely on Powerline and has returned him from his Gold Coast base. With no Brisbane meeting on Saturday, Jeff Lloyd also comes from the Gold Coast to ride the gelding.
“Powerline finished off okay last time when fourth at Doomben (on September 29) and handles soft conditions,” Lees said. “From an inside draw, he can be competitive.”
Lees hasn’t declared a rider for third emergency Go Benny in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (2000m), and is not expecting him to gain a start. He runs Kool Vinnie and Pierina when a new Canterbury night season opens tomorrow evening.
Jason Collett will ride both; Pierina in the Benchmark 74 Handicap (1100m) and Kool Vinnie in the feature Evening Star Benchmark 74 Handicap (1250m).
Lees has reported to Racing NSW stewards that Pierina underwent epiglottic entrapment (respiratory) surgery following her latest run when sixth on heavy ground at Randwick on June 23. That followed a first-up 1000m Maiden victory at the Scone carnival on May 11 and another success against her own sex in a 1200m Class 1 at Gosford 20 days later.
“Evalina has trialled twice (she won her latest over 900m at Newcastle on October 9) since coming back into work and is ready to go back to the races,” Lees said. “Kool Vinnie usually races well fresh (one win and two placings from four first-up attempts) and is capable of sprinting well. I feel both horses have good chances in their respective races.”