Gary Harley – Herald – 03.03.2023

Gai Waterhouse and Kris Lees have both won four Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket’s, and the pair will have representatives in Friday’s $200,000 Group 3 Newcastle Stakes, formerly the Newcastle Newmarket – the major event in the first half of the year for the Newcastle Jockey Club. Horsepower will sponsor the race, which was first run in 1955 when Waterhouse’s father, the late great TJ Smith trained the winner Seacraft.

The Waterhouse-Bott partnership have not trained a winner of this race, but the stable has a great chance on Friday. The training partnership will saddle up the $2.50 favourite Cross Talk which will be ridden by Tim Clark, and the Kiwi bred five-year-old has drawn well in the barrier three. A natural front runner Cross Talk, winner of five of his eleven starts with five placings is beautifully weighted with 54 ½ kilograms on his back. Clark has never ridden the winner of Friday’s feature however he is confident of victory on Friday.

“Cross Talk had a big weight first up when runner up, and he is so well placed on Friday. I have had a quick glance at the field, and we should lead and then quicken from the 700m. Cross talk is very well weighted. I have won a couple of Newcastle Cameron’s, but not this race” Clark said. Waterhouse won four Newmarket’s before Bott arrived on the scene, they being Secret Savings (1997), Hey Pronto (2002), Platinum Scissors (2004) and Laser Hawk (2015).

Lees has won the last four Newmarket’s, all raced by Australian Bloodstock Syndications. They were Princess Posh (2019), Special Reward (2020), Gem Song (2021) and Wandabaa (2022). On Friday, Lees’ representatives are Gem Song ($18) and Bellatrix Black ($19). Gem Song has 59kg and stable apprentice Dylan Gibbons has the mount, and the gelding has raced against top sprinters throughout his career. He has won seven with seven placings from twenty-nine starts, and his prizemoney tally stands at $849,345. He has a good first up record, and he hasn’t raced since The Hunter in November, however Gem Song had a quiet trial recently.

Bellatrix Black is a four-year-old New Zealand mare who races in the Australian Bloodstock colours. She has won two with two seconds from seven starts, and she wasn’t far away first up in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes recently.

Tracey Bartley’s four-year-old Kiss Sum can run well in the Newcastle Stakes. He won the Group 3 Gunsynd at Eagle Farm in June, and he was narrowly beaten in the $500,000 Provincial Midway Championship Final at Randwick during last years The Championships. Pizarro from the O’Shea stable is a promising four-year-old with 54 kilograms on his back. He has only been unplaced once in eleven starts.

The Newcastle Jockey Club has received a positive response the inaugural Bella Group Services Paul Perry 2yo Handicap (1300m).  James Cummings has accepted with four youngsters including last start Metropolitan winners Tom Kitten and Inhibitions. John O’Shea has promising filly Madam Roselyn in the race and Michael Freedman’s Wymark should run well.