LEES WINS ANOTHER PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Kris Lees won his third Polytrack Provincial Championship Final when Irish Import Cristal Breeze out-gunned another Novocastrian in Pandano to narrowly win the coveted final on April 17 at Randwick. Cristal Breeze, one of six finalists prepared by Lees, overcame a horror draw to storm home with Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
“Cristal Breeze is not quite there yet but we think he is a genuine Saturday horse. It’s nice when you set a plan from back in the winter and it comes to fruition. We put him away with this race in mind – so it’s a great outcome.
We brought Cristal Breeze along slowly and he delivered on the day,” Lees said. Bowman acknowledged the trainer “This horse was set for this race and he qualified nice and early. Kris was able to prepare him to peak on the day and that is exactly what happened.
Our confidence was dented when we drew an awkward barrier, but with genuine pace in running I found myself in a nice position midfield,” Bowman said.
The win was another major race scalp for Lees and his major client Australian Bloodstock, together with a number of Lees former South Newcastle Rugby League teammates who are in the ownership group. Lees previous winners of the Provincial Championship were Danish Twist in 2016 and Serene Miss in 2018.
SPRING BECKONS FOR LUNCIES
The Spring beckons for exciting English import Luncies following his impressive victory in the 1800 metre Benchmark 78 Handicap at the Hawkesbury stand alone meeting on May 1.
The lightly raced four-year-old gelding arrived in Australia in December. He won four of seven starts overseas but was unwanted on his Oz debut by punters he ran in an unsuitable 1550 metre event at Canterbury on April 7 – but was only 3.8 lengths off the winner. The big grey was a different horse second up at Hawkesbury when he stepped up to 1800 metres, and despite the topweight of 60 kilograms, Luncies was outstanding. He was given a gun ride by Josh Parr who was held up momentarily in the straight before launching late to win running away.
Trainer Kris Lees was rapt with his effort “He is a very nice horse and has huge upside. He had to carry 60 kilograms and then work hard to weave a passage through the field. Luncies is still an inexperienced horse, particularly for our style of racing, but he is learning, and I believe he will make the grade next prep. Brisbane was tempting but I am thinking of the long term and what is best for the horse, so we’ve sent him to the paddock for a let up. We’’ll look after him now and you will see a better horse in the Spring.” Lees said.
Lees has many options later in the year as Luncies has won up to 2400 metres, with a Newcastle Gold Cup start in September very much on the radar, the Group 3 event that his trainer won for the first-time last year with Mugatoo.
A couple of high-profile owners are amongst the connections in Luncies including Rupert Legh (Chautauqua) and Lib Petagna (Lucia Valentina).
FOUR WINNERS FOR THE IRISHMAN
It was high-quality racing at Newcastle during April but an Irishman who rides the spacious track so well produced a career best performance on April 10.
Lee Magorrian rode the first four winners on the eight-race program. The popular jockey, who is attached to the Chris Waller stable, arrived in Australia three and a half years ago and he estimates he has ridden around 130 winners in that time.
Three of Magorrian’s winners – Hot Spring Gold, Grace and Harmony and Pretty Elsa were trained by Waller.
“This day has been the highlight of my career and I love riding on this magnificent track. My previous best was three winners one day back in New Zealand,” Magorrian said.
FAREWELL MICHAEL BUCKLEY
The Newcastle Jockey Club farewelled popular Industry Liaison & Racing Supervisor Michael Buckley at his ‘last’ race meeting at Broadmeadow on May 8.
Buckley has recently taken over as the General Manager of the Tamworth Jockey Club.
Buckley arrived in Newcastle from South Australia in 2016 after working in various racing related roles and being earmarked by Matt Benson as a budding administrator. He beat a field of 80 applicants for his role at the NJC and with his hard work, passion for the game and popularity with the participants, he has repaid that support in spades.
NJC Chairman Geoff Barnett heaped praise on the new Tamworth General Manager. “It is a great opportunity for Michael, and he’s had an excellent grounding with our team at the club. He has been a terrific contributor and we are sorry to see him go. The NJC wish Michael the very best.” Barnett said.
LUCKLESS, BUT GREAT CAMPAIGN
Newcastle’s pocket rocket filly Never Talk is enjoying a well-earned Winter rest following her emergence as a genuine Group 1 or 2 campaigner.
The diminutive three-year-old, thought to be too small to fetch a competitive price at a yearling sale, is leased by two syndicates facilitated by the Newcastle Jockey Club and also Lees Racing, who train the speedie daughter of No Nay Never.
Never Talk went to the races five times in 2021 and, after winning a Kensington Benchmark 78 on January 2, the filly raced in three group events. She was very unlucky to be beaten a head by Every Rose in the Group 2 Lights Fingers and followed that up with a luckless fourth behind Forbidden Love in the Group 1 Surround Stakes. In her last appearance Never Talk ran fourth by a miserly 0.7 of a length in the Group 3 PJ Bell Stakes in another race that didn’t pan out ideally for her.
The tough little filly has attitude, but is affectionately known as Squirt around the stable. She finished her long campaign with career stats of 10 starts for 5 wins and a second, with total prizemoney and BOBs bonuses to her name of just under $250,000.
Connections can’t want for the Spring.