Herald- 17.03.22

Kris Lees’ domination of the 2022 Polytrack Provincial – Midway Qualifiers is set to continue at Newcastle on Thursday when he saddles up three of his team in another of the Newcastle heats.

Lees has trained the winner of three of the four qualifiers decided to date. Rustic Steel, the equal favourite to win the $500,000 Provincial – Midway Final at Randwick on April 9 won the opening qualifier at Newcastle for Lees on February 24. The Newcastle stable won the qualifier transferred from Hawkesbury to Newcastle on March 5 with Geo, and last Saturday Kinloch made it three finalists for Lees when he came from near last to beat a cracking field in the Gosford qualifier.

On Thursday Newcastle’s leading stable will be represented by talented mare Never Talk, the resuming Cristal Breeze and Sammy. Never Talk is clearly the best fancied of the trio and will be ridden by James McDonald for the first time. The 4yo has banked close to $300,000 for her owners from 17 starts which include 5 wins and 4 placings. Never Talk should be at her top after being placed in her two starts this champaign. Last start the mare was placed in the Group 3 Wenona Girl at Randwick. Never Talk has no speed and her racing pattern is to settle near the rear and unwind late. She loves a wet track having had two wins on a heavy and one on a soft.

Cristal Breeze won the 2021 Provincial Championship Final at Randwick. He is first up but has been trialling well. Sammy has been unplaced in two starts this preparation, but he has good form at Newcastle.

Lees suggested Never Talk looked his best chance when contacted after acceptances, however he expects Cristal Breeze and Sammy to perform well.

“She is a nice mare Never Talk and she comes off a Stakes placing last start, and she ran fourth in a Group 1 last prep. She is a back marker but is a strong finisher and prefers a wet track.

Never Talk is well placed here and will be hard to hold out. Cristal Breeze has a good draw and is trialling okay while Sammy had no luck last start. The pair of them have a chance” Lees said.

The Randwick filly Mayrose is in great form and could start favourite. Trained by Kiwi John Sargent, the 3yo will be ridden by Jason Collett who has steered her to victory in her past two starts at Randwick and Canterbury.

The meeting has attracted some of Australia’s highest profile jockeys and Hugh Bowman has a great chance of continuing his run of success on the Newcastle track. He will be aboard the Chris Waller trained Endorsement, early favourite in the 1400m TAB Venue Mode Benchmark 64.