Gary Harley – Wrap – 17.12.22


Kris Lees’ five-year-old French Marine made a successful return to racing with an effortless three length victory in the Tozer Air & Electrical Benchmark 68 Handicap (1150m) at the Newcastle Jockey Clubs Beaumont track race meeting on Saturday. French Marine had not raced since July, but he had the benefit of two recent barrier trials when ridden by young apprentice Lachlan Scorse.

Clearly the best horse in the race French Marine needed to be close to his top as he had to carry 61.5kg and contend with barrier 13. While well backed from $6.00 into $4.20 favourite, Lees’ foreman Cameron Swan did not exactly ooze with confidence when interviewed by Sky Racing prior to the race. “He is the class horse in the field, but he normally needs a run first up. He has a very good second up record – but he has had a couple of quiet trials recently” Swan said.

Aaron Bullock produced another gun ride to land the topweight an easy winner. The gelding settled worse than midfield one off the rail, and Bullock called on him to improve at the top of the straight. French Marine was cruising 300m out, and when Bullock gave the horse full rein, he put them away with a good turn of foot.

French Marine is part owned by Kristy Lees, wife of the trainer and he has now won more than $182,000 in prizemoney. He made racegoers take notice on April 9 this year when as a $61 chance he was beaten less than half a length by stablemate Kinloch and Kiss Sum in the $500,000 Provincial Midway Championship Final at Randwick. Lees had another successful day with Ucalledit (Eagle Farm) and Paradise Island (Gold Coast) winning their respective races.

Rosehill mare Banana Queen landed a huge plunge in the final event at Newcastle, the Tozer Air & Electrical Christmas Cup (1250m). As much as $5 was bet in early markets and Banana Queen went to the barrier as the $1.90 favourite. With the aid of the rail’s barrier, Banana Queen settled in a great spot off the speed in a truly run race and she sprinted away in the straight.

Chris Waller’s Cadetship, subject of an alarming betting drift won the Tozer Air & Electrical Maiden Handicap (1200m). A $6 chance when markets were framed, Cadetship drifted to $13 before a narrow but tough win.

The Beaumont track will host the popular Boxing Day race meeting on Monday.