Kris Lees has chosen the Winter Cup at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday as Nurse Kitchen’s weekend assignment.
After careful consideration, Lees opted to keep Nurse Kitchen (Jason Collett, $5.50 on TAB fixed odds) at home for the Listed race rather than send her to Queensland (with stablemates Our Gravano and Dal Cielo) for another Listed event, the Caloundra Cup at the Sunshine Coast. Both races are at 2400m, and Lees feels the Rosehill event is the 'softer option'.
The decision will give him a double-barrelled shot at the Cup, as he also runs Doukhan (non-claiming apprentice Jean Van Overmeire, $6).
Blinkers are going on former Melbourne mare Nurse Kitchen, and he is hoping they will help her focus better during the race.
“But I feel the softer track will be more of a factor for her,” Lees said.
“There was more rain in Sydney yesterday and that has influenced me to run at Rosehill rather than go to Queensland.”
Nurse Kitchen, at only her third start since joining Lees’s team, tailed the field to the turn in a 2000m Handicap at Rosehill on June 16 before finishing seventh to Black On Gold, beaten just under three lengths.
The mare’s only two wins from a 10-start career have been on a slow track (the 1600m Group 2 Fillies’ Classic at Moonee Valley in October 2016) and on the Geelong synthetic surface four months earlier in a 1300m 2YO Maiden. She was also narrowly beaten in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill in March last year on a Heavy 9.
Doukhan, edged out by Plot Twist in the 3200m Stayers’ Cup at Royal Randwick on June 9, is getting ready for another 3200m assignment; the Queen’s Cup Trophy at the Sunshine Coast on July 14. A 2400m Rosehill winner from only three starts at the track, the July 14 race will be Doukhan’s fourth 'marathon' in recent months. He ran seventh in the Sydney Cup at Randwick in April, fifth in the Ramsden Stakes at Flemington in May and then narrowly missed out on landing the Stayers Cup.
Lees also has two representatives – Olympic Academy (Christian Reith) and Feelin The Love (Van Overmeire) - in the Benchmark 79 Handicap (1500m) and, not surprisingly, favours the latter.
Olympic Academy ($41) is resuming and has drawn awkwardly, whilst Feelin The Love ($14) is at her best on wet ground and scored first-up on a Heavy 8 at Warwick Farm on June 13. Six of the former New Zealand mare’s eight wins have been on soft and heavy surfaces. Whilst Van Overmeire cannot claim on Doukhan, his 2kg allowance will lessen Feelin The Love’s weight to 57kg.
Smart mare Upscale ($7.50) makes her comeback from injury in the Benchmark 80 Handicap (1100m) and Brenton Avdulla has the mount. Upscale hasn’t raced since finishing seventh to Memes at Randwick in July last year and, though she has previously won twice first-up, her trainer considers she “might just need the run”.
Lees’s other Rosehill runners are I Am Awesome ($13) in the Benchmark 75 Handicap (1800m) and soon to be retired Danish Twist in the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m). Andrew Adkins rides the pair.
“It’s a similar type of race against her own sex for I Am Awesome as to her latest eighth over 1500m at Rosehill after good country and provincial form,” Lees said. “We are trying her at the extra distance.
“I am taking pacifiers off Danish Twist, simply changing her gear around. The Winter Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on July 14 may be her last race before being retired to stud.”