Gary Harley – Herald – 09.03.23

Kris Lees has won four of the eight Provincial or Provincial Midway Championship Finals and Newcastle’s premier trainer is confident one or two of his team will qualify for the 2023 final on Thursday. Lees has four runners in the Newcastle Jockeys Clubs Polytrack Provincial- Midway Championship Qualifier on Thursday. Two qualifiers of the 2023 Championship have been run at Kembla and Hawkesbury and Lees is yet to qualify any for the final. The winner and runner up in the qualifiers progress to the $500,000 Polytrack Provincial Midway Final at Randwick on April 8.

TAB has framed a wide-open market for the Newcastle qualifier with Lees’ Acquitted a $5 favourite. The trainer discussed the prospects of his quartet after acceptances on Tuesday “My four are in good order but they are all resuming from spells and will be fitter as the series goes on. Geo has been impressive in both trials, and he races well fresh. He has won over this trip on this track and he wont be far off the speed. Geo is a definite chance with Nash aboard. Acquitted is the best performed of mine and he has a good first up record. He has had two trials and his form last prep was good. Brenton Avdulla will ride him. Cloudland is the up and comer with a fine record of three wins and a third from four starts. He will improve with the outing, be nice and fresh and will be on pace. He is up in class but need watching. The import Kalapour is nice and fresh with two recent trial wins. You will see the best of him when he gets up to 1700-2000 metres however, he can run well first up. Kalapour galloped with Luncies and Hosier between races at a recent Newcastle meeting and he held his own” Lees said.

His four Provincial or Provincial final winners have been Danish Twist (2016), Serene Miss (2018), Cristal Breeze (2021) and Kinloch (2022).

Contributingfactor another Novocastrian will carry top weight, but he has a great chance in the qualifier. The 4-year-old is ready to fire after two runs at Rosehill this preparation. Last start on January 28 Contributingfactor raced in restricted room between the 100 and 50 metres and was only beaten by 1.76 lengths. He has won three from six at Newcastle and Christian Reith on the comeback trail has the mount and he is in good form steering home a double at Taree on Tuesday.

Tracey Bartley’s mare Sebrenco can run well second up. She was only beaten 1.57 lengths in the Four Pillars at Rosehill in October. First up recently the mare was a close third at Canterbury. Chad Schofield rides from a soft draw.