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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KRIS Lees has put the Newcastle Gold Cup disappointment with beaten favorites Cleveland and Kalapour behind him, and is aiming both at the Group 1 The Metropolitan.

Royal Randwick’s $750,000 spring staying feature will be run over 2400m on Saturday week.

The leading Newcastle trainer’s pair started $4.40 joint favorites in last Friday’s hometown $300,000 Gold Cup (2300m), but jumping from the two outside barriers in the capacity 16-horse field impacted their chances.

Kalapour (Damien Oliver) and Cleveland (Ben Melham) finished seventh and ninth respectively to Sydney-trained Military Mission, who is also Metropolitan bound.

“They were forget runs,” Lees said this afternoon. “The way the race turned out gave them no hope of coming from as far back as they were.

“They have pulled up well and will definitely go to The Metropolitan.

“We haven’t finalised bookings, but there is a chance Ben Melham could be back in Sydney to ride Cleveland.

“Damien Oliver rode Kalapour at Newcastle, but wouldn’t be able to make the gelding’s 52.5kg on Saturday week.”

Kalapour drops from 56kg at Newcastle, whereas Cleveland also has a decent weight reduction, carrying 54.5kg at Randwick against his 58kg at Newcastle.

Cleveland is currently a $15 chance with, and Kalapour is at $26.

Queensland Oaks winner Amokura had her second trial back at Wyong yesterday, but Lees has ruled out running her first-up in Saturday week’s $1.5m Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick, where she has 50kg.

“I’m just taking her along steadily and she isn’t ready,” Lees said.

“At this stage I don’t think I will have an Epsom representative.”

Lees nominated seven horses – Luncies and Protagonist (both 54kg), Amokura, Inver Park, Spangler, Razeta and Loch Eagle (all 50kg) – for Randwick’s major spring “mile”.

“Luncies and Protagonist most likely will go to the Hill Stakes at Rosehill Gardens a week later,” he said.

The 1900m Group 2 weight-for-age contest carries a $2m purse, and is being run only a week before Sydney’s new race, the $5m King Charles III Stakes (1600m), also at wfa, at Randwick on The Everest program.

Lees was pleased with Protagonist’s determined finish into fourth placing behind dominant $2.50 Metropolitan favorite Just Fine in last Saturday’s Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Randwick, after his first-up close second in the Listed Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury last month.

Whereas well-backed $3.30 favorite Inver Park never got on the track in last Friday’s Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle and did well to battle on and finish fifth, stablemate Spangler ran another excellent race when third to Epsom hope Democracy Manifest.

“At this stage, I don’t think Spangler would get a run in the Epsom,” Lees said.

“The Alan Brown Stakes (1400m) is a new race on the Hill Stakes program at Rosehill a week after the Epsom and is worth $1.5m, and that might be a nice assignment for Spangler.”

. Eight provincial-trained horses have been weighted for the $8m Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 7.

They are the Lees trio Protagonist (52kg), Cleveland (51.5kg) and Kalapour (50g), fellow Newcastle trainer Mark Minervini’s Newcastle Cup placegetter Hosier (50.5kg), last year’s placegetter High Emocean (50kg) and Promises Kept (50kg) – both currently at Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s Newcastle base – Hawkesbury trainer Ed Cummings’ triple Group 1 winner Duais (54kg), and fellow Hawkesbury trainer Marc Chevalier’s Torrens (50kg).

*Words John Curtis, September 19, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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