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  • Provincial Racing NSW

MAJOR STABLES TARGET BRISBANE’S GROUP 2 SIRES




TWO of provincial racing’s major stables are opposing one another in search of Group 2 glory at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees and his Kembla Grange counterparts, father and son duo Rob and Luke Price, have a pair of inexperienced but very talented two-year-olds who, despite “boasting” a mere five starts between them, are right in contention for the BRC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m).

Tim Clark rides Brutal Bowler for Lees, and Tommy Berry partners Smashing Time for the Price boys.

Brutal Bowler, unlucky not to have won on debut at Eagle Farm late last month, then made no mistake when he overpowered his rivals in a 2YO Handicap (1400m) at the Sunshine Coast on May 19.

“Perhaps the Sires might have come a bit early for him, but he deserves his chance,” Lees said.

“He has trained on well since the Sunshine Coast win, and importantly has drawn well in a capacity field.”




A $240,000 yearling, Brutal Bowler was described by Lees as a “good sort”.

“Provided he runs well in the Sires and pulls up well, we will definitely consider going on to the $1m Group 1 JJ Atkins(1600m) at Eagle Farm in a fortnight,” he added.

The same applies to three-start “veteran” Smashing Time, who followed a Kembla Grange 1400m breakthrough on April 20 with an outstanding performance when a late closing third from the outside alley over the same distance on the Kensington track on May 15.

“I’m an absolute fan,” co-trainer Luke Price said of the Brave Smash youngster, who fetched $180,000 as a yearling and races in the Australian Bloodstock colours.

“I found him at the Magic Millions sale last year, bought him and got Australian Bloodstock’s Jamie Lovett, who bred the colt, back into him.

“Smashing Time had to be gelded early on, and even though he can be a handful, there’s no doubt about his ability.

“He went to the Gold Coast (with stablemate Our Gold Hope) with Dad more than week ago, and has settled in well.

“Even though he has drawn wide, I’m not worried about that.

“Tommy will be able to get him into his rhythm and, if there’s a lot of speed, he’ll be there at the finish.”

The Prices ran second with Verbek in the Listed The Phoenix (1500m) at Eagle Farm three years ago, but did not proceed to the JJ Atkins, but won the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) there the following year with ill-fated Count De Rupee.

Meanwhile, Lees’ weekend focus will definitely be on the Eagle Farm meeting where, not only does he have an outstanding Group 2 prospect in Brutal Bowler, but also a trio of Group 3 candidates, including a very interesting newcomer.

He will introduce the talented import Adelaide River to Australian racing, along with proven pair Cleveland and Luncies, in the Group 3 Lord Mayor’s Cup (1800m).

Lees’ star apprentice Dylan Gibbons heads north to partner Adelaide River, whilst Melbourne pair Michael Dee and Blake Shinn partner Cleveland and Luncies respectively.

Dual overseas Group 1 runner-up and Group 3 winner Adelaide River begins a keenly-awaited Australian campaign in the Lord Mayor’s Cup.




Not only is Lees looking forward to the lightly-raced four-year-old’s debut, but also that of Cleveland’s return after last spring’s Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner was unfortunately ruled out of the Melbourne Cup (3200m) on race eve with an elevated temperature.

“I’m expecting both Adelaide River and Cleveland to run nice races, but their chances haven’t been helped by wide draws in a big field,” he said.

“They will go on to the Q22 (2200m) at Eagle Farm in a fortnight, and then be targeted toward the big spring races.

“Adelaide River hasn’t trialled, but has done plenty of work and did have a jumpout at home and is a really nice horse.

“I was pleased with Luncies’ first-up fifth in the Listed Members’ Handicap (1600m) at Doomben a fortnight ago, and he ran second in last year’s Lord Mayor’s Cup to Without A Fight (who later in the year carried off the Caulfield-Melbourne Cups double).”

A cross-over nose band goes on Adelaide River, and visors are back on Luncies.

Lees has opted to put blinkers back on Basarwa (Andrew Mallyon) in the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1600m).

“He is racing consistently and was placed at his last run at Doomben a fortnight ago, and I felt blinkers would help staying at 1600m,” he said.




Lees also runs Enterprise Pomme (Mallyon) in the Listed Helen Coughlan Stakes (1200m), and says she is an each-way chance at good odds.

“Enterprise Pomme’s two runs for me have been pleasing, and she came from well back when fourth in the Listed Bright Shadow (1110m) at Doomben a fortnight ago,” he said.

“The extra distance and bigger track at Eagle Farm where she races well (two wins and five placings from nine starts) are in her favour.”

Story John Curtis, May 31, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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