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KRIS Lees has won the last four Group 3 Horsepower Newcastle Stakes (1400m) at Broadmeadow and will have dual representation when he seeks a fifth tomorrow.

But another multiple Group 1 winning trainer, Wyong’s Tracey Bartley, is “gunning” for him – and with good reason.

Whereas Lees has confirmed he will start both Gem Song (Dylan Gibbons), one of his former winners in 2021, and talented former New Zealand mare Bellatrix Black (Brenton Avdulla), who now races in the Australian Bloodstock colours, Bartley will rely on his inaugural Four Pillars winner Kiss Sum, who will be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy.

It’s fair to say Lees has been a thorn in the side to Bartley in regard to Kiss Sum.

Lees’ Geo beat Kiss Sum in a Provincial-Midway Championship Qualifier over the Newcastle Stakes course in March last year, and then Kinloch just nabbed him in the $500,000 Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick the following month.

“We’ll knock him off tomorrow,” a confident Bartley declared this morning.

“Kiss Sum ran a terrific race first-up at Rosehill Gardens, and has come on well since.

“He is at the top of his game, and the Newmarket looks a really nice race for him.

“Our aim is to get his benchmark rating (currently 89) up to get him into the Doncaster Mile at Randwick next month.”

Bartley started Shamus Award four-year-old Kiss Sum three times last spring, including the Group 1 1600m Cantala Stakes (won by Alligator Blood) at Flemington, then gave him a let-up to look ahead to the autumn.

“Nothing much went right for him because he missed out getting starts in some of the races we wanted to run in,” Bartley said.

“He has come back in terrific order, and I was very pleased with his first-up sixth to Andermatt in a Benchmark 94 Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill on February 18.

“He definitely should have been right in the finish.”

Bartley has won plenty of races at Newcastle, but runners in feature races at have been few and far between.

But he hasn’t forgotten General’s Sniper’s fourth (Chris Waller’s Vintedge won the race and Lees’ Hidden Wonder was second) in the fillies and mares’ feature, the Group 3 Tibbie Stakes (1400m), at the 2010 Newcastle Cup carnival.

‘I brought her over from Mudgee and we backed her each-way at $151,” he recalled. “She was beaten only one and a half lengths.”

General’s Sniper raced in the same colours as Sniper’s Bullet, who provided Bartley with his three Group 1 triumphs; the 2007 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm, and 2009 Railway Stakes (1600m) and Kingston Town Stakes (1800m) at Perth’s Ascot racetrack.

Kiss Sum is currently $8 third favorite for tomorrow’s Newcastle Stakes, with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s Cross Talk a dominant $2.25 favorite. Tim Clark rides and is seeking a Newcastle Stakes breakthrough.

Waterhouse last won Newcastle’s feature autumn sprint with Platinum Scissors (Glen Boss) in 2004, when training on her own.

Lees’ last four Newmarket winners were Princess Posh (2019), Special Reward (2020), Gem Song (2021) and Wandabaa last year.

Brenton Avdulla, who rides Bellatrix Black (she will come out of Saturday’s Group 3 Aspiration Quality at Randwick) tomorrow, won on Princess Posh and Special Reward.

The rail is in the TRUE position for the eight-race card which begins at 1.10pm, and a “Good 4” rating has been posted.

*John Curtis

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