Kris Lees feels Prized Icon will run well, but has “no great expectations” for his stable debut at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday. The 2016 Victoria Derby victor resumes from a lengthy break in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m), with regular partner Glyn Schofield aboard.
Prized Icon ($12 on TAB fixed odds), originally with James Cummings at Royal Randwick before he became Godolphin’s head Australian trainer last year, hasn’t started since failing in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) on a heavy Eagle Farm surface on May 27 last year. Many horses didn’t handle the conditions that day, and the track was subsequently closed again for major work, and is yet to reopen.
“Prized Icon has been in work quite a while and given a good grounding,” Lees said this morning. “He has had two solid trials, but there’s no substitute for race fitness.
“I think he’ll run a nice race, but he’s never been successful first-up and I’m not going into the Carrington with any great expectations. Being a stallion, he is going to take good improvement from the run. I’ll be happy if he hits the line well.”Whilst Prized Icon was successful over the Derby 2500m at Flemington in the spring of 2016, Lees says the four-year-old’s next couple of runs will determine autumn plans for him.
“He’ll be nominated for all the feature races and we’ll be guided by his performances and progress as to where we head with him.”
Prized Icon, who has been placed twice from four first-up outings, finished second to Manhattan Mist in his latest trial over 1000m at Wyong on January 16. Lees will fly to New Zealand on Saturday evening after Prized Icon’s resumption to attend the Karaka yearling sales.
The Group 1 winner is his sole representative on Saturday, but he will have three runners at tomorrow’s Australia Day meeting at Warwick Farm. Lees has delayed Wahng Wah’s retirement a week to allow her another chance to bow out a winner.
Schofield also partners Wahng Wah ($9), and she will be joined by Kool Vinnie (Hugh Bowman, $8) in the Benchmark 75 Handicap (1400m). Wahng Wah was a strong-finishing photo-finish second at Canterbury last Friday night, and Kool Vinnie scored second-up over 1250m there on January 10.
“There’s not much between the pair,” Lees said. “Kool Vinnie is the younger horse with the upside, but Wahng Wah has the better draw.” Wahng Wah has won twice – including a victory over Saturday’s distance – from five Warwick Farm starts. Kool Vinnie has raced only once there and finished seventh over 1400m last July, but was at the end of a six-race campaign.
Lees also takes the promising Bold Chance ($8) to town for his city debut, in the Benchmark 71 Handicap (1200m). The five-year-old was a late starter, but quickly built a good record on country and provincial tracks, winning three of his five starts. He hasn’t started since easily winning a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) at Gosford on August 17 last year. Blake Shinn rode him then and stays in the saddle tomorrow.
Bold Chance has trialled twice in preparation for his return, and won an 845m heat at Wyong on January 16: “He has come back in really good order, and is beautifully drawn,” Lees said. “I’m confident he will run well.”
Lees also sends a team to Port Macquarie tomorrow, and runs Hammoon Dream (Aaron Bullock, $4.20 favourite) in the feature event, the $60,000 Queen Of The North (1200m): “It’s a nice race for her, but it’s competitive all the same,” Lees said.
Hammoon Dream ran second first-up at Wyong in late November, before finishing eighth to the talented Brave Song at Canterbury on December 15: “She was given a little freshen-up after that race, and had a trial at Wyong on January 16,” Lees said. “Hammoon Dream has raced twice at Port Macquarie, and has won there over the distance of tomorrow’s race.” That was on April 28 last year in a Class 3 Handicap when she beat Tuesday’s Taree winner Portatorio.