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KRIS Lees has left no stone unturned in a bid to win a race he dearly covets at Royal Randwick tomorrow.

He has opted for both an important claim along with blinkers on Australian Bloodstock import Rogue Bear in the Vale Alan “Jock” Gollogly Benchmark 78 Handicap (1800m) – named in honour of his mate and clocker, who passed away earlier this week at 72 years of age after a brave battle with cancer.

Rogue Bear has drawn the rails, and stable apprentice Ben Osmond’s 3kg allowance lessens the gelding’s weight to 57.5kg.

“It certainly would be special to win Jock’s race,” Lees said this morning.

“The reason for putting blinkers on him is that he is backing up from last week and coming back from 2000m, and hits a flat spot at a vital stage.

“Hopefully, they can do the trick.”

Rogue Bear ran third to Kapakiri in the same grade at Randwick last Saturday with 60.5kg, after finishing a close second to Sound and Vision in the Big Dance eligible Taree Gold Cup (2000m) on November 19.

The six-year-old gelding, who won first-up at Taree over 1400m in October with Osmond aboard, is Lees’ sole runner at Randwick, and was a $9 fourth favorite with this morning.

Meanwhile, another Australian Bloodstock import Acquitted is a dominant favorite to clinch a fourth Australian career victory in tomorrow’s Listed Bernborough Plate (1600m) at Eagle Farm.

Acquitted’s three wins since joining Lees’ stable have been on heavy ground (twice) and the other on a soft track and, whilst a “Good 4” rating was posted this morning, further rain is forecast in Brisbane.

“Acquitted is in great order, and looks very well placed under the set weights conditions,” Lees said.

“He carried 59.5kg in winning the Listed Tails Stakes (1600m) on soft ground at Doomben three weeks ago, drops 2.5kg and has trained on well since.

“Acquitted has been placed on good ground, and obviously will be even harder to beat if the rain arrives.

“I will probably bring him home after tomorrow’s race.”

Leading Brisbane jockey James Orman rode Acquitted in his Doomben success, and stays with him for the Eagle Farm assignment.

Lees’ other Eagle Farm runners are Always On Show (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1820m), and Animate and Willinga Freefall (Benchmark 85 Handicap, 1400m).

Andrew Mallyon rides both Always On Show and Willinga Freefall, whilst apprentice Cejay Graham has the mount on Animate.

“Always On Show was a touch disappointing last time when a well beaten third over 1600m at the Sunshine Coast, but gets to a more suitable distance and has drawn well in a capacity field,” Lees said.

“Animate will appreciate Cejay’s 2kg claim, and Willinga Freefall is facing a tougher task from an awkward draw than his latest easy win at Eagle Farm, but is very consistent.”

Lees runs Oakfield Wallaby (Grant Buckley) in the Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap at tomorrow’s Wyong meeting.

He has won three from four starts since taking over the Dissident four-year-old’s preparation, and is kicking her off at 1600m.

“Oakfield Wallaby scored first-up for us over 1400m at Coffs Harbour in June, and has had two trials to get her ready to begin another campaign,” Lees said.

“She won up to 2200m last time, so the 1600m first-up isn’t a worry.”

. Jock Gollogly’s service will be held at Pettigrew Family Funerals at Mayfield West on January 8 at 2.30pm.

Story John Curtis, December 22, 2023 - Pics supplied*

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