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  • Provincial Racing NSW


Updated: Nov 3, 2023

KRIS Lees has given Kalapour his tick of approval as he seeks to double his representation in Tuesday’s $8.4m Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

Kalapour arrived in Melbourne this morning and has to beat only six rivals in Saturday’s Group 3 Lexus Archer Stakes (2500m) there to automatically cement a berth in the Cup line-up.

“He travelled well and looks great,” the leading Newcastle trainer said from Melbourne this afternoon.

“With only seven runners, the good thing about Saturday’s field is that he shouldn’t have a hard race.

“He is a very consistent horse, and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t run well again.

“Kalapour is in the Cup if he wins, but if he is beaten and still runs well, we would have to consider accepting with him.”

Twenty-four horses can run in the famous “two-miler”, and only 29 remain in contention.

Kalapour is currently 28th in ballot order prior to both the Lexus Archer result and the final field being declared at 4.30pm on Saturday, followed by the barrier draw an hour later.

Damien Oliver rides Kalapour as the gelding attempts to guarantee a Cup start, but has already taken the mount on Tuesday on Alenquer, and Lees said he hasn’t yet confirmed a Cup jockey.

Forgetting Kalapour’s fall in the Listed Wyong Cup (2100m) on September 1 and his seventh a fortnight later in the Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) when he drew the outside barrier, he has not missed a placing in his other eight latest runs, which include two wins.

Following the Newcastle Cup, he ran third to Just Fine in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on September 30, and filled the same position behind Land Legend and stablemate Cleveland in the ATC St Leger (2600m) there on October 14.

Stablemate Cleveland, last Friday night’s impressive $750,000 Group 2 Gold Cup (2500m) winner at The Valley, was penalised 0.5kg to 52kg, and Michael Dee has been booked for Flemington.

“Both Cleveland and Kalapour have undergone their CT scans ahead of the Cup, and have been passed,” Lees added.

UK jockey Jamie Spencer will ride Lees’ other Flemington runner on Saturday; Willinga Beast in the Group 3 Furphy Sprint (1100m) for mares four-year-old and upwards.

“We’ve just changed things up a bit by putting winkers on her because she is staying at 1100m,” Lees said.

“She has trained on well since her first Melbourne start at Caulfield.”

Willinga Beast didn’t have the clearest of runs in the straight and was beaten less than two lengths when sixth to Lempickain the Listed Alinghi Stakes on October 21.

Lees is having a throw at the stumps in Sydney with Razeta(Dylan Gibbons) in Saturday’s $10m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens

“It’s a tough assignment, but she made the big field and we’re hoping she can pick up some prizemoney,” he said.

Lees also starts dual acceptor Dream Hour (Gibbons) in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1500m), and Zoe’s Promise (Nash Rawiller) in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1300m).

“Dream Hour won nicely first-up on the Kensington track, and has continued to do well,” he said.

“He has drawn the inside on Saturday, and there’s no reason why he won’t run well again.

“Zoe’s Promise is resuming and having her first run for us.

“Her two wins in Melbourne were both at 1600m and will take improvement from Saturday’s race, but is coming up nicely.

Terrameades (Kyle Wilson-Taylor) and Animate (Jim Byrne) will represent the stable at Eagle Farm on Saturday in the Benchmark 70 Handicap (1300m) and Open Quality (1400m) respectively.

“Terrameades has drawn well and is always a chance in this type of race, and Animate is definitely capable, but needs luck from an awkward alley.”

. Lees was pleased with Luncies’ close fourth in yesterday’s $500,000 Bendigo Cup (2400m), saying his 59kg topweight anchored him under handicap conditions.

He has kept the gelding in Melbourne, with Saturday week’s Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington his likely next assignment.

Kembla Grange’s Kerry Parker and Ben Smith and Hawkesbury’s Brad Widdup also have Flemington runners on Saturday as the Cup carnival begins.

Parker (Hope In Your Heart) and Widdup (Ausbred Flirt) oppose each other in the $1m Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m), whilst Smith runs Mah Ali (Group 3 Carbine Clun Stakes, 1600m) and Vieste (Group 2 Wakeful Stakes, 2000m); the latter on trial for an Oaks (2500m) start next Thursday.

*Story John Curtis, November 3, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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