Kris Lees’ imported mare Lyrical Lady, impressive in her first Australian preparation will have her first Newcastle start on Saturday. The four-year-old was purchased by Australian Bloodstock after one win from nine starts in Europe, and at her first Australian start at Taree on February 19, she ran on well to finish second over 1600m.
Second up the mare was narrowly beaten into second place in a 1700m Class 1 at Scone. Last start at Hawkesbury, Lyrical Lady stepped up to 2000m and she raced away in the closing stages to win by 2.89 lengths. On Saturday, the promising stayer will contest the Konami Provincial Benchmark 68 Handicap (1850m) with Andrew Gibbons in the saddle. She has a positive barrier and with some rain predicted it is important to note her only Australian win was on a soft track.
Lees has a good chance of notching up an early double, as his ultra consistent four-year-old Tiva Bay will be hard to beat in the opening event – the Bella Group Services Class 1 & Maiden Plate (2300m). From his 16 starts, the gelding has had a win and eight placings. Digger McLellan has ridden the Kiwi bred stayer at his past two starts, and he has the mount on Saturday.
Luck has not been on the side of the James Cummings trained Northumbria in recent weeks, but the gelding can put the bad luck behind him on Saturday. On April 1 he was first past the post in a race at Hawkesbury but was relegated to second following a protest. On April 22, Northumbria was loaded into the barriers and then got his near hind leg up on the running board and after examination by the vet was a late scratching. On Saturday the three-year-old lines up in the Start At Bottlemart Maiden Plate (1200m), and Koby Jennings rides from a lovely barrier.
Union Army, luckless first up on this track on April 12 can atone in the final event, the Tooheys New Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m). After being crowded for room in the straight Union Army was only beaten .87 of a length. In August Union Army was placed in his first two starts on this track. The barrier is a negative but with luck he will test this lot.