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  • Provincial Racing NSW


NASH Rawiller will be a new rider for Luncies as Kris Lees chases a second Brisbane winter carnival feature at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Buoyed by a Group 1 triumph with Amokura in last Saturday’s $700,000 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at the same track, he is looking forward to starting Luncies in the $1.2m Group 2 The Q22 over the same distance.

The grey six-year-old import is certainly overdue for a breakthrough in a feature race, having been runner-up at his last four starts – all in stakes company.

Luncies was betaen by Soulcombe in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington on November 5, and then by a previous Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare in the Group 2 Sandown Classic (2400m) three weeks later.

He resumed when narrowly beaten by Commando Hunt in the Listed Scone Cup (1600m) on May 13 before being overhauled by Without A Fight in the Group 3 Lord Mayors Cup (1800m) at Eagle Farm a fortnight later.

Luncies also missed out qualifying by less than a length for last year’s Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington when beaten by Point Nepean in the Listed Andrew Ramsden (2800m) at that track 12 months ago.

“Luncies has done well since the Lord Mayors Cup, and it’s worth having a crack at a $1.2m race with him,” Lees said.

Blake Shinn rode the gelding in the Lord Mayors Cup, and his conqueror Without A Fight is again a rival on Saturday.

In an open affair, this afternoon had three horses – Without A Fight, Doomben Cup winner Huetor, and Cup runner-up Numerian – sharing favoritism at $3.80, with Luncies at $12.

Lees’ other Eagle Farm runners will be unbeaten filly Infancy and last week’s Doomben runner-up Bangetta in the Listed 2YO Oxlade Stakes (1300m).

Meanwhile, Oaks heroine Amokura will enjoy a good spell in the Queensland sunshine.

“There are no set plans for her, although she will be nominated for all the big races,” Lees said.

“Most likely she will have only a light spring and we will focus on the autumn next year and then back to Queensland in the winter.”

Amokura, having only her sixth start, gave Lees his 16th Group 1 success, and his first since In Her Time took the Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington in February, 2019.

Whilst Melbourne legend Damian Oliver produced one of his great rides to provide the leading Newcastle trainer with a second Queensland Oaks (the first was with Vitesse Dane in 2005), Lees revealed it took a fair bit of arm-twisting to get him to take the mount.

“Ollie had been to the Adelaide carnival four weeks in a row, so he had done plenty of travelling interstate,” Lees said.

“And Amokura was a 20-1 chance when I rang him, so thankfully I was able to talk him into going to Brisbane.”

Lees’ 16th Group 1 was extra special as his late father Max trained Amokura’s granddam Timeless Appeal, who was sired by his great sprinter Luskin Star, the “colossal colt from the coalfields”.

Ironically, Amokura’s dam, the Quest For Fame mare Fain, didn’t even make it to the track. She ran last in two barrier trials in Sydney; the first in August 2006 and second in October 2008.

“This was Amokura’s first racing preparation,” Lees said. “We had her in work a couple of times last year and she trialled at Newcastle in January and then at Muswellbrook in July,” Lees said.

“But she was a gangly filly and wasn’t ready to go to the races until this year.”

*Words John Curtis - June 5, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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