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  • Provincial Racing NSW


THERE’S been no joy yet for Kris Lees in the $2m Inglis Millennium – but it’s not stopping him having a third crack at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

The leading Newcastle trainer’s two representatives to date haven’t flattered, and he admits it’s a “throw at the stumps” with $81 bolter Thundering Soul (Dylan Gibbons) in this year’s 1200m renewal.

The Spirit Of Boom youngster scored on debut in a 2YO Handicap (900m) at Scone on January 21, and his $13,950 first prizemoney was enough to secure him a start at the weekend.

“We’re jumping a few grades for sure, but Thundering Soul has come on really well since the Scone race,” Lees said today.

“With such big prizemoney on offer, he deserves his chance.”

Lees described Thundering Soul as a “nice type of colt” when he fetched $200,000 at last year’s Inglis Classic yearling sale as Lot 605.

He is the last foal of the Mossman mare Miss Falsified, who died in October 2021, only a few weeks after giving birth to him.

Lees’ previous runners in the Millennium were Mystic Gem (8th at $26 to Profiteer in 2021), and Pomade (16th at $51 to Xtravagant Star in 2022); the now four-year-old is racing in North Queensland.

Lees’ other Randwick runner on Saturday is Brudenell (Gibbons) in the Benchmark 94 Handicap (1000m).

The four-year-old has been a wonderful performer for the stable, winning seven of his 14 starts and hasn’t raced since stepping up to open company at Canterbury on January 1 when sixth to Insurrection in the Listed Canterbury Sprint (1200m).

“He drew awkwardly that day in a small field and had to work hard to get to the front,” Lees said.

“He had a freshen up afterwards and a nice 845m tick-over trial at Wyong last week, and comes back to Benchmark grade.”

Lees has two runners at tomorrow night’s Canterbury meeting as the evening series nears an end for this season.

They are Surreal I Am (Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1550m) and Basarwa (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1250m).

Josh Parr rides Suirreal I Am, and Dylan Gibbons partners Basarwa.

“Surreal I Am is lightly raced and has a lot of upside, and comes off a last start midweek Doomben breakthrough over 1650m,” Lees said.

“This is his first racing preparation, and it looks a suitable race to give him his first run in Sydney.

“Basarwa has the tongue tie off, and hasn’t raced since last April.

“He will take improvement from this outing.”


Lees is undecided whether to chase a hat-trick with form sprinter Kinloch at Doomben on Saturday as he eyes a fifth success in Newcastle’s forthcoming feature autumn sprint.

Kinloch, unbeaten in two starts (at Randwick on January 6 over 1200m, and 1400m Listed Sunshine Coast Cup three weeks later) since resuming, is an acceptor for the Open Handicap (1350m).

“I’m not sure yet whether I will run him at the weekend, or bring him home for a Rosehill Gardens 1400m Handicap in a fortnight as his lead-up to the Newcastle Stakes,” Lees said.

The $250,000 Group 3 Stakes (1400m) – previously Newcastle Newmarket – was won four years in a row by Lees between 2019 and 2022 with Princess Posh, Special Reward, Gem Song and Wandabaa.

He also finished second to favorite Cross Talk last year with $19 chance Gem Song.

Along with 2022 Provincial-Midway Championships winner Kinloch, Lees is also likely to start Ucalledit in the Newcastle Stakes.

Story John Curtis, February 8, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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