Gary Harley – Herald – 18.12.21

The $150,000 Sky Racing Summer Provincial Series Final 1600m highlights the seven race program at Newcastle Racecourse on Saturday.

Kris Lees has trained the winner of the race since its inception in 2018. Occupy (2019) and It’s Lily (2020) both raced by Australian Bloodstock syndications have been the Newcastle trainer’s winners. On Saturday Lees has four finalists and all four have the credentials to win the race. The Lees quartet are Darleb, Juventus, Azarmin and Grand Rumore and all are last start winners.

Lees discussed the prospects of his finalists on Thursday “Darleb found form in Queensland with two good Saturday class victories. He has returned home in good order and will be hard to beat. Juventus could be suspect at 1600 metres and he needs to get across from the wide gate. His Hawkesbury win was okay but this is a much stronger field. Azarmin will have to be ridden back from the wide barrier but although it was a small field at Kembla she beat them by a big space. Grand Rumore is flying and along with Darleb is the best weighted of my team” Lees said.

Newcastle trained 3 year old Quick Tempo is out to maintain his unbeaten record in the 900 metres Tozer Air and Electrical Benchmark 68 Handicap. Trained by Mark Minervini the gelding has won all four of his starts at Mudgee, Muswellbrook, and Taree twice. Quick Tempo was originally handicapped to carry 60 kilograms but Minervini has booked Dubbo apprentice Liam Blanch to ride the horse and his 3 kilogram claim is a huge positive.

Blanch and Minervini have enjoyed success in recent months with the stayer French Response.

Annabel Neasham who trained the winners of both Magic Millions races at Wyong on Wednesday is sending her well performed filly Flying Witness to Newcastle to contest the Tozer Air and Electrical Maiden Plate 1500m. The three year old was beaten two lengths in the Group 2 Riesling Stakes at Randwick in March. First up on the Kensington track on December 3 Flying Witness was placed 2 ¼ lengths from the winner. Apprentice Ellen Hennessy will ride the filly and claim 3 kilograms.