Gary Harley – RNSW September 2020

2000 Winners And A Second Double Century

Newcastle’s gun trainer Kris Lees reached yet another milestone in his seventeen-year career when he trained his 2000th winner on the Kensington track at Randwick on July 18.

Kiwi owned three-year-old Killin, carrying the colours of one of Lees’ favourite horses Lucia Valentina, led throughout to provide the Novocastrian premier trainer with win number 2000. It was another example of Lees’ ability to astutely place horses, as Killin went from winning a Gosford Maiden in his previous start to a Metropolitan Saturday win.

The laconic Lees did not attend the Randwick Kensington meeting when he reached the milestone. “I have two young sons playing rugby league in Newcastle and their competition was meant to be starting-up that day but was called off, so I decided to spend the day at home with the family. I don’t get too wrapped up in numbers or keep records and I was only aware I was closing in on 2000 winners a couple of days before I reached that number. I am more worried about the next 2000,” Lees said at the time.

Lees produced his 200th winner for the 2019-20 season when High Opinion saluted the judges at Randwick in July. It has been his second-best result as far as winners are concerned, finishing the racing year with 215½ winners, compared to 249½ in 2018-19.

Following the season Lees heaped praise on his staff and jockeys. “It has been another huge effort by the team, but I will say that when you have as many horses that we have in training, the stable is expected to produce a huge number of winners.

I have tremendously loyal owners, office staff, stable staff including trackwork riders and of course jockeys in Andrew Gibbons, Aaron Bullock, Samantha Clenton, Louise Day, Luke Cumberland and Amelia Denby.

Dylan Gibbons recently started his career as an apprentice jockey and he is determined to make it,” Lees said.

Quizzed concerning his highlight of the season, the popular mentor thought long and hard. “Australian Bloodstock is my biggest client and during the season horses like Mustajeer, Raheen House, Special Reward, Mugatoo, Sixties Groove and the two-year-old Zeftabrook and Redoutes Image all won important races in their colours. That was really pleasing.

I have two other smart juveniles that have recently turned three years of age. The Bopper is special because of the family and friend’s connection and Meadow Land, owned by long time clients Ron and Judy Wanless, looks to be very promising,” Lees said.

Lees Racing Jockeys had Great Seasons

Lees Racing stable jockeys Andrew Gibbons, Aaron Bullock, Samantha Clenton and Louise Day all enjoyed very successful seasons. Gibbons rode 124 winners, Bullock 102, Clenton 89 and Day 51. Gibbons claimed the New South Wales Jockey’s Premiership and the Newcastle Jockey Clubs Premiership, and he finished sixth in the overall Australian Premiership.

Bullock missed close to six months of the season while Clenton had various injuries which saw her out of the saddle for three months during the season.

NJC Award Winners

The Newcastle Jockey Club will not hold its annual awards night for the 2019-20 season because of the current Covid-19 situation. The presentations will take place at a Newcastle race meeting. The Club has released the Awards and Premiership winners.

Horse of The Year – Raheen House

Two-Year-Old of The Year – Zeftabrook

Rising Star Award – Louise Day

Newcastle Jockeys Premiership – Andrew Gibbons

Newcastle Trainers Premiership – James Cummings

Newcastle Apprentice Premiership – Tom Sherry

Max Lees Medal – Trainers Strike Rate – Richard & Michael Freedman

Bill Wade Medal – Jockeys Strike Rate – Aaron Bullock

Cessnock Jockeys Premiership – Christian Reith

Cessnock Trainers Premiership – Kris Lees

Cessnock Apprentice Premiership – Tom Sherry

2020 NJC Spring Carnival

The Group 3 Sharp Electronics Group Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) will be run on Friday September 18 carrying prize money of $200,000. Also on the program is the Group 3 Australian Bloodstock Cameron Handicap (1500m) and the Group 3 Yarraman Park Tibbie Stakes (1400m). The next day is the second day of the NJC’s Spring Carnival and is Ladies Day.

The annual Beauford Club luncheon, with restricted numbers, is scheduled to go ahead at the Newcastle Racecourse the day before Cup Day.

  Naughty Girl Breaks Through

Newcastle hobby trainer Tanya Randell was laid up in hospital when her pride and joy My Rose My Kingdom blitzed her opposition to win a Wyong Maiden by three lengths in July. The filly is the only horse the former jockey has in work and the antics of My Rose My Kingdom the previous day was the reason Randell was admitted to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital. After trackwork the three-year-old pinned her trainer against the wall of a float resulting in a broken collarbone and ribs.

Randell’s partner Mall Ollerton, Lees Racings senior foreman, took My Rose My Kingdom to Wyong. The filly was a $4000 yearling spotted by Ollerton at a Scone sale two years ago. She was immature and green early in her career however, on instructions from Ollerton, Tom Sherry let My Rose My Kingdom roll and she bolted-in over the 1200 metre trip. Her breeding suggests the filly will likely appreciate more ground.

Randell, who is employed in an East Maitland sports store these days, rode the Paul Perry trained Well Known to win the 1996 June Stakes at Randwick.

Sam’s Been Doing It Tough

Samantha Clenton was set to easily notch up a century of winners for the season when she rode her 89th winner on Scone Cup Day in May. However, her troublesome back flared up again and she hasn’t ridden since. Clenton underwent surgery in August and all going well will resume riding in October.

Clenton has ridden 352 winners during her apprenticeship including 52 on Metropolitan tracks, and it is hoped the popular young lady makes a complete recovery from the latest mishap.