Brenton Avdulla has picked up the plum ride on the Kris Lees trained Asharani in Thursday’s Polytrack Provincial Championships Gosford Qualifier (1200m) at Newcastle Racecourse. The Gosford Qualifier was scheduled for last Saturday, however the race was postponed due to poor visibility after rain fell throughout the day.
Racing NSW made the decision to add the Gosford Qualifier to Thursday’s Newcastle program. Asharani was to be ridden by Samantha Clenton at Gosford however, she was not available to ride on Thursday, so Lees quickly snapped up Avdulla to take the mount on the $4.20 second favourite.
Kim Waugh’s talented four-year-old Trumbull is the $3.50 favourite despite his horror barrier. The 1200 metre start at Newcastle allows for fourteen starters and Trumbull will only have one runner drawn on his outside.
Trumbull and Asharani clashed at Randwick on February 29 when Trumbull beat the fast finishing Asharani by a long head. The winner’s performance was outstanding as he was trapped three-wide without cover from the outset before sprinting clear with 200 metres to run.
Asharani settled near the tail of the field and he was still well back in the early part of the straight before sprouting wings late.
Avdulla rode Asharani last start but Trumbull will have a change of jockey with Grant Buckley replacing James McDonald.
Lees has mixed feelings concerning the change of venue for the Qualifier. “Obviously Asharani will relish the transfer to the spacious Newcastle track and its long straight however, he loves a wet track and that heavy 9 and Gosford would have been ideal. It was a good 4 at Randwick last time he raced, and his run was very good off a slow speed.
Asharani has won over 1200m but 1400 metres is more to his liking. There should be a good tempo and that’s what we want. It’s a high-quality Class 5 race and Trumbull is a smart sprinter and will be heard to beat. My other two runners Bubbles Ball and Bombasay have each way chances,” Lees said.
Thursday’s Provincial Qualifier is the strongest to date with Trumbull ($8) and Asharani ($11) the two favourites in early betting for the Polytrack Provincial Championships Final at Randwick on April 11.
Lees has accepted with eight of his team on Thursday, including the promising three year old’s Regimental Band and Geo. Regimental Band only beaten a length in a Listed race during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, contests the 1200 metre Class 2 Handicap. The filly has drawn the extreme outside barrier in a big field and Lees said on Tuesday the intention is to ride her quietly.
“She is a classy filly and comes of a nice trial win however, from that barrier I want her to go back and ridden quietly.“
Geo is a son of Lees multiple Group 1 winner Samantha Miss steps out in the 1200 metre Class 2 Handicap. He hasn’t raced since January 4, but he has had two recent barrier trials. The colt has a win and two placings from three starts. “Geo is a more of a 1400 metre horse, but he trialled well over 1000 metres at Wyong recently. We will ride him off speed and he has a bit of class about him,” Lees said.