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KRIS Lees has made it clear!

Even though Cleveland is now virtually assured of a Melbourne Cup start, he won’t be lining up at Flemington on Tuesday week if he doesn’t perform at The Valley tomorrow night.

With a number of announced non-runners amongst the second acceptors, Lees’ stayer is currently inside the cut-off point of 24 for the $8.4m Cup (3200m).

“There’s no point running for the sake of it if Cleveland doesn’t race well at The Valley,” the leading Newcastle trainer said this afternoon.

“I’ve been happy with him since his second in the ATC St Leger Stakes (2600m) at Randwick on October 21, and he was floated to Melbourne on Tuesday night.”

James McDonald rode Cleveland in the St Leger, and sticks with him in the $750,000 Group 2 Gold Cup (2500m).

“The blinkers come off; he doesn’t need them,” Lees said.

Cleveland has raced in the shades at his last two runs, finishing sixth to Just Fine in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on September 30 before his St Leger second.

Under the set weights plus penalties conditions of the Gold Cup, Cleveland has 55kg; 0.5kg less than he carried in the St Leger.

He has 51.5kg in the Melbourne Cup, but will be eligible for a penalty if he wins at The Valley.

Stablemate Kalapour, who ran third in the St Leger and is not yet guaranteed a Melbourne Cup start pending the third round of acceptances on Monday, is heading south.

He will run in the Archer Stakes (2500m) on the opening day of the Cup carnival at Flemington on Saturday week, and then a decision will be made whether he backs up in the Cup.

The Archer winner automatically gains a berth in the Cup field.

Stablemate Luncies also is Melbourne-bound, with next Wednesday’s $500,000 Group 3 Bendigo Cup (2400m) his immediate target.

Lees also accepted with Pier Pressure for Saturday’s Group 2 Fillies’ Classic (1600m) at The Valley, but isn’t running.

Instead she will contest the $1m Group 2 Callander-Presnell over the same distance at Randwick on Saturday, with Regan Bayliss aboard.

Pier Pressure, placed in the Group 1 Sires (1400m) at Randwick in the autumn, broke through in a Provincial Maiden Plate (1400m) at Hawkesbury on October 8 as a $1.30 hotpot.

This of course is a far different proposition at set weights, and she is one of the outsiders at $34.

“I’ve decided to put blinkers on Pier Pressure in the hope that they will help her,” Lees said.

Razeta is first emergency for Saturday’s $2m The Invitation (1400m) at Randwick, and will run if she secures a start.

Blackcomb (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 2000m) and Always On Show (Benchmark 80 Handicap, 1600m) represent the stable at Saturday’s Doomben meeting.

“Blackcomb has won two of her three starts since coming to us, and has remained at our Gold Coast stable since her victory in a Benchmark 80 Handicap (1830m) at Eagle Farm on October 7,” Lees said.

“She has trained on well, and the extra distance shouldn’t be a problem.

“Always On Show has been placed at both runs since a lengthy break.

“She races well at Doomben, where she has won two of her four starts, and is nicely drawn.”

*Story John Curtis, October 26, 2023*

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