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KRIS Lees has called on victorious The Everest jockey Sam Clipperton to hoist Luncies back into the winning list at Rosehill Gardens tomorrow.

Clipperton will partner the grey in the Listed January Cup (2000m), but isn’t a stranger to the gelding.

“Sam has been coming to Newcastle on a weekly basis to ride work for Kris, and has also been riding in trials,” stable spokesman Danny Greer said.

“Kris has rewarded him with rides on both Luncies and Bubba’s Bay at the weekend.

“Sam partnered Luncies in a track gallop prior to the trials here last Friday, and was happy with his work.

“I’m sure he will give him every chance from the inside barrier.”

English import Luncies won the Group 3 Tatt’s Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm last June and, whilst winless in six subsequent starts (including two during the Melbourne spring carnival), he was a close second to Lion’s Roar in the Group 3 Summer Cup (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Boxing Day at his latest assignment.

Greer, who has saddled winners Kinloch at Randwick last Saturday and Age of Sail at Warwick Farm on Wednesday for Lees whilst he is attending the Magic Millions race and sales carnival, also saddles Infancy, Bubba’s Bay and Ucalledit at Rosehill.

Kerrin McEvoy rides Infancy in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1300m) for three and four-year-olds, Clipperton is on Bubba’s Bay in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m), and stable apprentice Ben Osmond partners Ucalledit in the Benchmark 100 Handicap (1300m).

“Infancy has now had two runs back, and was a bit unlucky when third to stablemate Chilli Filly at Randwick on Boxing Day, running good closing sectionals,” Greer said.

“She raced well toward the end of last season as a two-year-old, and has plenty of upside.

“Whilst she goes up from a Benchmark 64 on Boxing Day, she drops 5kg and should be hard to beat.

“Bubba’s Bay also ran well when resuming and a close fourth to Either Oar at Randwick on December 30.

“She meets Either Oar again, this time is 2kg better off, and has taken natural improvement from that first-up run.

“Kris decided not to send Ucalled it to Queensland a couple of weeks ago to resume when the track was heavy.

“These Benchmark 100 Handicaps in Sydney dn’t come along often, and Kris felt this was a good opportunity to get him back to the races.

“Ben’s 3kg claim will drop his weight to 59.5kg, and he has won first-up before.

“No doubt he will take improvement from his first run back, but is nicely drawn and can definitely go well.”

Lees also has four runners at the Magic Millions meeting at the Gold Coast, headed by last month’s Group 2 The Ingham (1600m) winner Loch Eagle.

Nash Rawiller, who won on Age Of Sail at Warwick Farm, will ride the five-year-old in the $1m MM Cup (1400m).

“Loch Eagle has been at our Gold Coast base for a while, and Kris is very happy with him,” Greer said.

“It’s a strong race and he has drawn awkwardly, but is in great form.”

Velvet Haze (Andrew Mallyon in the Country Cup, 12000m), Animate (Dylan Gibbons in the $1m MM Snippets, 1300m), and Willinga Beast (Blake Shinn in the $1m F&M, 1300m) are Lees’ other Gold Coast representatives.

“Velvet Haze goes into this race in great form, having won three of her last four starts,” Greer said.

“She is adept on soft and heavy ground and, whilst this is tougher than her recent runs, she is definitely there with a good chance.

“Animate is the only one of our Gold Coast four to draw well, coming up with the inside barrier.

“He is never too far away, and capable of causing an upset in a tough race.

“Willinga Beast was terrific from a wide draw at Doomben last time when a close fifth in Listed company.

“She has drawn near the outside but can figure in the finish with decent luck in running.

“She is very effective on heavy ground should there be further rain.”

Fellow Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer has withdrawn Hard To Say from the 1300m QTIS Open (1300m) at the Gold Coast tomorrow to focus on the shorter 1200m MM Snippets, whilst leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup opted to keep Cross The Rubicon at home for the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill rather than send her north for the F&M 1300m at the Gold Coast meeting.

Story John Curtis, January 12, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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