Gary Harley – Herald – 04.03.22

The time-honoured Newcastle Newmarket is Kris Lees’ winningest Group race in nineteen years of training. Newcastle’s leading trainer has won the past three Newmarket’s with Gem Song (2021), Special Reward (2020) and Princess Posh (2019).

On Friday, Lees will saddle up two genuine chances in the 2022 Horsepower Newcastle Newmarket, a Group 3 event. Top weight Special Reward a $6 equal favourite with TAB when markets were framed on Wednesday and Wandabaa, the underrated mare and wet track specialist a $10 chance are Lees’ runners.

When contacted on Wednesday following acceptances the trainer said his pair are spot on however, he is keeping an eye on the weather. “I cannot fault either of the pair and their form indicates they should run well. I believe Special Reward has never raced better and if the track remains in the soft range he has a great chance.

Four starts this preparation for two wins and two placings all at Group and Listed level indicate he is racing well. He has won four from seven on soft tracks. From the ideal barrier Special Reward will probably settle three pairs back.

Wandabaa loves a wet track and she has the limit weight of 54 kilograms. The mare has a good Newcastle record. Her run in The Hunter when she flashed home for second behind Lost And Running was super. She has worked well since her first up run and has a good second up record.

This year’s Newmarket is a wide open affair with many chances as the market indicates. It is a high-quality race and includes Nimalee, beaten a length in the Group 1 Empire Rose, Riodini, a close second to Verry Elleegant in the Group 1 George Main, Aramayo beaten a head in the Epsom, Rock winner of two Cameron Handicaps, Aim winner of $1.6 million in prizemoney and Through The Cracks winner of a Provincial Championships Final.

Scone trained Remlaps Gem, unbeaten over 900m trips resumes from a two-month break when he contests the 900m Kloster Motor Group Benchmark 78 Handicap. Trained by the astute Scott Singleton, the 5yo has blistering speed and has a good fresh record. After finishing third to The Bopper at Randwick on December 18 Remlaps Gem blitzed a Quality Handicap field on a heavy track at Doomben on January 8. Reece Jones has the mount on the speedster, and he claims 1 ½ kilograms.

The Chris Waller trained Big Short has bright prospects in the 1600m New Zealand Bloodstock Maiden Plate. The 3yo was responsible for an outstanding performance second up at Gosford on February 19. It was a 1600m Maiden and he was second last some 10-12 lengths off the lead at the ‘1300’. Big Short flashed home down the short straight to go down by a length. He will appreciate the long straight and Hugh Bowman has the mount.