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KRIS Lees won the second running of what is now Gosford’s richest race – and hopes to win the fourth edition on Saturday.

The leading Newcastle trainer and his star apprentice Dylan Gibbons will combine with the talented Tavi Time in an attempt to win the $500,000 The Coast (1600m) at the metropolitan stand-alone meeting.

Gosford’s feature event for three and four-year-olds run under Quality conditions was won by the same trainer, Sydney’s John Sargent, with Brandenburg in its inaugural year (2021) and again last year with Palmetto.

But Lees scored with Rustic Steel (Jay Ford - above) in 2022, and the gelding backed up six days later to also land the Listed Scone Cup (1600m), with Kerrin McEvoy aboard.

Rustic Steel later that year capped an outstanding run of success by also taking the inaugural $2m The Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick.

The lightly-raced Tavi Time is proving himself pretty adept at 1600m also.

He is so far unbeaten at two starts at The Coast distance, having easily won a Benchmark 78 Handicap at The Hunter metropolitan meeting at Newcastle last November, and then the Mudgee Cup 13 days later by a widening six and a half lengths.

Tavi Time, who has won six of his 11 starts, easily took a 1400m heat of the Provincial-Midway Championships at Newcastle on March 2, and two runs later finished fifth to Territory Express in the $1m Final (1400m) at Randwick on April 13.

He drew poorly, and came from 14th at the 400m to be beaten little more than two and a half lengths.

“Tavi Time has been ticking over nicely since the Final, and the 1600m is more appealing,” Lees said.

“Being a race for three and four-year-olds, it looks a really suitable assignment.”

Lees and Gibbons combined to win their most important race yet, with Kalapour in the $1.5m Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 30.

Lees also intends nominating three-year-old filly Kind Words for The Coast, but says she is more likely to go north for the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) at the Sunshine Coast against her own sex.

He won the 2013 edition with Express Power, ridden by Jim Cassidy.

Lees is aiming last year’s Group 1 Queensland Oaks winner Amokura for the $1m Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 25, but is uncertain if she will have another start beforehand.

He has excused the classy mare’s first-up 11th to Waterford in a Benchmark 100 Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill a week ago.

“They ran along and went too quick for her,” he said. “She is an out and out stayer and hasn’t won under 1800m.”

Lees won Saturday races at Eagle Farm (Zoe’s Promise) and Newcastle (Seasons Of Mist); the latter being one of five winners at their home meeting.

After Zoe’s Promise (Andrew Mallyon) led throughout for a dominant first-up success in a Benchmark 85 Handicap (1400m), The Autumn Sun three-year-old Seasons Of Mist (Lee Magorrian) broke through in a Maiden Plate (1870m).

Fellow Newcastle trainers Paul Perry, Dave Atkins and Jay Hopkins joined Lees as home winners.

Perry clinched a double with $17 chance Majestic Style (Mikayla Weir) and $11 chance Bakerloo (Ash Morgan), Atkins scored with Divine Prophet filly Godelba (apprentice Ben Osmond), and Hopkins with Sonofdec (Jean Van Overmeire).

. Wyong’s Sara Ryan was the sole provincial winner at Hawkesbury’s stand-alone meeting, landing the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1500m) with Always Sure (Tim Clark), defeating Newcastle trainer Scott Aspery’s Uzziah ($10).

Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup was beaten on the post with Short Shorts ($11) in the $250,000 Group 3 Hawkesbury Crown (1300m), and later also finished second with 2022 Newcastle Max Lees Classic (900m) winner Fire Lane in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m).

Wyong trainer Kim Waugh’s promising three-year-old Bojangles was an excellent second to favorite Schwarz in the $250,000 Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m), and also ran third with favorite Shadows Of Love in the Crown.

Provincial placings were the order of the day at Hawkesbury, with leading Kembla Grange trainers Rob and Luke Price also finishing second with Monte Veebee ($7.50) in the 2YO Clarendon Stakes (1400m).

Stablemate Victory Lane ($6.50) bled from both nostrils for the first time in Always Sure’s race, and Newcastle trainer Mark Minervini has advised RacingNSW stewards of the retirement of his Hellbent four-year-old Fire And Ice following his failure at Gosford on Anzac Day.

Story John Curtis, May 5, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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