By Ray Hickson
Trainer Kris Lees says the time is right to test the limits of unbeaten filly Wandabaa as she attempts to make it four from four at Randwick on Tuesday.
The three-year-old has been well placed by Lees to date with comfortable wins at Gunnedah and Armidale in the late autumn and a strong finishing first-up Newcastle win last month.
“She's always shown enough but she's taken a little while to mature,’’ Lees said.
“She is going well now, she's a nice filly who keeps improving.’’
Wandabaa will be ridden by Andrew Gibbons, who has been on board in two of her three wins, in the Sharp Extensive IT Handicap (1100m) on the Kensington track and she’s a $5.50 chance with TAB.
Lees is taking a realistic approach to assessing her chances, saying she’s done nothing wrong and has earned the opportunity.
“It's a big jump from a couple of bush runs and a Newcastle 900m but she's ready to take that next step,’’ he said.
Wandabaa wins at Newcastle on October 19
The Newcastle trainer will be hoping Agent Pippa has a bit more fortune than stablemate Special Reward did at Rosehill on Saturday having saved the mare from a clash by running her in The Agency Real Estate Choisir Handicap (1100m).
Lees scratched Agent Pippa to avoid a clash with Special Reward, who was a beaten favourite after blowing the start and racing wide, and hopes the smaller field and light weight will play in her favour.
“She has a high cruising speed and needs to be ridden accordingly,’’ Lees said.
"She'll be ridden positively from the gates and we'll see how it unfolds from there but she'll race well.’’
Agent Pippa, formerly trained in Perth, won at her debut for Lees in July and was back to her best with an all the way win over 1100m at Randwick on October 12.
She’s $2.70 favourite to make it three from five for Lees who says he’s found spacing her runs is the key to bringing out the best in the four-year-old.
Meanwhile, Lees expects to have at least two runners in the $1m The Hunter (1300m) at Newcastle on Saturday week in the shape of classy duo Graff and Le Romain.
Graff has been freshened since taking on the Everest horses in the Concorde, Shorts and Premiere and pleased Lees with a trial win at Newcastle last week.
And the warhorse Le Romain showed he’s on track with a plucky first-up third in the Redzel Stakes (1300m) last Saturday.