By Gary Harley
Kris Lees is off to a flying start in the first two weeks of the new racing season and his winning run is set to continue at Thursday’s Newcastle race meeting.
After a record-breaking 249 winners in the 2018-19 season, Lees has trained 14 winners in the first two weeks of this season.
Newcastle’s premier trainer will saddle up four of his team on Thursday with a former European stayer Urbino the best of the quartet. Urbino makes his first Australian appearance in the opening event an 1890 metre Maiden Plate with Hugh Bowman aboard.
Lees other runners are No Doubt A Cracker (R4), Just Cosmos (R5) and Love Delight (R6). Urbino a five-year-old entire had five starts in Europe and he was placed twice.
He was purchased by the Hunter based Australian Bloodstock after his first run in Europe 10 months ago. The stayer resumes without a trial, but Lees is confident that Urbino will run boldly.
“Urbino hasn’t raced for a long time, but he has done a lot of long slow work in preparation for this race. If you look at him, he appears to be big in condition, but he is fit enough to win this race. Urbino raced on the speed overseas, but I will leave it to Hughie on Thursday to place him where he is comfortable” Lees said.
Urbino went up to $5 with corporate bookmakers on Tuesday when punters stepped in and he was $2 on Wednesday morning. Lees believes his other three runners will perform well.
“No Doubt A Cracker is first up after two trial wins, but it is a tough race. She won well first-up last prep but in a much inferior race. The mare has an each-way chance.
Just Cosmos is speedy and won a recent trial, however, will need luck from the barrier. Love Delight is a former Victorian which won very easily at Muswellbrook first up. Then she was scratched at the barrier and had to trial. “I believe she will run well,” Lees said.
The Snowden’s stable produced a cracking colt called Famous which won at Newcastle on Saturday and on Thursday another of the stables three-year-old’s resumes.
Wayupinthesky a Snitzel filly resumes in the 900 metre Class 1 Handicap. She only had two starts in her two-year-old year and performed admirably. Wayupinthesky debuted in the Group 2 Riesling Stakes at Randwick and she finished fifth in a field of top-class juveniles. In her only other start at Warwick Farm on March 27 the filly was a convincing winner on a heavy track.
She wasn’t extended in a recent Randwick trial and on Thursday Tim Clark has the mount from barrier one. Bowman will be aboard another well-fancied former European galloper Agosto in the final event the 1890 metre Benchmark 64 Handicap.
Chris Waller trains the five-year-old which raced twice in Europe for a second and a fourth. The gelding did not race for 12 months before an impressive first-up win at Kembla over 1500m. The 1890 metre trip on Thursday is much more suitable.