By Gary Harley
Kris Lees has had a flying start to the 2019/20 season and will saddle up three live chances at Tuesday’s Newcastle meeting.
Newcastle’s premier trainer has notched up 32 winners in the first 32 days of the current season and Lees trained 191½ winners in 2016/17.
Last season Kris Lees [pictured below] lifted the bar with 249 winners, and he would be at short odds to better last season’s record in the current season.
On Tuesday the Lees-trained trio are Urbino (Race 1, $1.30 favourite on TAB fixed odds), Kedah (Race 3, $7) and Intimidating (Race 4, $5.50).
Urbino is an imported stayer which had his first Australian Start over 1890m on this track on August 15.
He was backed from $5.50 into $1.50 and he settled at the tail of the field before finishing strongly to go down by .35 of a length. Urbino got a bump on the turn and laid in down the running.
On Tuesday he steps up to the 2335m of the Class 1 and Maiden Plate in which he is an odds-on favourite.
Kedah, raced by Lib Petagna the owner of Lucia Valentina and a number of Lees's rugby league teammates, will contest the 1200m Fillies and Mares Benchmark 64 Handicap.
The Kiwi-bred mare came from almost last to win running away at Gosford three weeks ago and she will benefit from a two-kilogram claim for the in-form Louise Day.
Intimidating is first-up in the 900m three-year-old Maiden Plate. His only start was on Boxing Day when beaten five lengths at Randwick when well backed. He led and was nailed on the post in a recent Beaumont trial.
Central Coast-based jockey Tim Clark has three rides at the Newcastle meeting and all three have bright prospects.
Clark, who has ridden 21 winners in the first month of the current season, will be aboard the early favourites Versetto ($1.85) in the 1200m Benchmark 64 Handicap and Got Your Six ($1.85) in the Fillies and Mares Benchmark 64 Handicap.
Versetto missed the start when only beaten a length at Canterbury first-up on August 21 and his only win was second-up.
Got Your Six was an easy winner of a Newcastle Maiden in April before going for a spell. The mare is trialling well, and she has genuine speed and has drawn well.
Last preparation Got Your Six was runner-up behind Trope, Classique Legend and Fasika on metropolitan tracks.
Clark’s other mount Tepario should run well in the 1300m Fillies and Mares Maiden Plate.
The mare had no luck first-up at Newcastle on August 15 when runner-up to Living Rocks.
She was held up at the top of the straight and checked at the 300m. Tepario was backed from $15 to $9 last start.