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LEES CHASING MURWILLUMBAH CUP WITH TWO RUNNERS



LEADING Newcastle trainer Kris Lees won both The Big Dance eligible Ballina and Lismore Cups last year, and then the inaugural $2m finale at Royal Randwick with Scone Cup victor Rustic Steel.Now he is hoping to add today’s $70,000 Murwillumbah Cup (1550m), which also carries eligibility for the second renewal of The Big Dance (1600m) on November 7, which has been boosted to $3m.


Lees opted to bypass respective Doomben races on Saturday with both Kinloch and Ella Te Ama to start the pair at Murwillumbah, keen to carry on from his successes last year with Kedah in the Ballina Cup and Spanish Point in the Lismore Cup (held at Grafton).

Kinloch (1350m Class 6 Plate) and Ella Te Ama (1600m Class 3 Plate) both drew poorly at Doomben, influencing their trainer to target the Murwillumbah feature.

“Ella Te Amma has also drawn awkwardly at Murwillumbah, but both she and Kinloch are running there,” Lees said last night. “Kinloch has been placed at all three Brisbane runs this campaign, and is the class horse, having also won the Provincial Championship Final at Randwick last year. “The tight Murwillumbah track is perhaps a query, but he is going well enough to suggest he should have a really good chance.


“Ella Te Ama is going to need some luck from a wide draw, but she is by no means out of it.”

Andrew Mallyon will ride Kinloch, and Ash Morgan partners Ella Te Ama, last year’s Summer Provincial Series Final winner at Hawkesbury over 1600m. Seven scratchings from the Cup field – originally 14 plus five emergencies – has reduced the number of starters to 12.

Kinloch this morning was a $4.80 second favorite for the Cup with TAB.com.au behind recent dual Sydney winner Wategos ($2.90). Ella Te Ama was a $16 chance.


Meanwhile, stablemates Spangler and Loch Eagle, who ran the quinella for Lees in the Provincial Championship Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick in April, will resume at Rosehill Gardens tomorrow – minus blinkers. Spangler (Tom Sherry) begins a new campaign in the Benchmark 100 Handicap (1400m), in which Lees also runs talented import Inver Park (Dylan Gibbons). Loch Eagle (Josh Parr) contests the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1200m), where Lees will also start Razeta (Gibbons).


Lees was happy with recent stable acquisition Cleveland’s solid first-up fourth in last Saturday’s Group 3 Premier’s Cup (2000m) at Randwick, and is looking forward to starting him in the $300,000 Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) on September 15.

Stablemate Protagonist has also done well since his narrow debut defeat for his new stable in last Thursday’s Listed Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury, and goes to the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Randwick the day after the Newcastle Cup.


Article by John Curtis, 25th August 2023. Photo: Bradley Photos

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