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  • Provincial Racing NSW


KRIS Lees will closely study earlier Eagle Farm races on Saturday before finalising riding tactics for his Queensland Oaks hope Kind Words.

The leading Newcastle trainer was understandably disappointed when the filly drew the outside barrier in the capacity line-up for the $700,000 Group 1 Oaks (2200m), which he won last year with Amokura.

“The way the pattern of racing develops will have a major bearing on our tactics,” Lees said on Thursday morning.

“If they aren’t making ground, then we won’t have any option but to roll the dice and go forward.”

The now retired Melbourne gun Damien Oliver clinched Lees’ 16th major (he has since won another with Kalapour in the Tancred Stakes at Rosehill Gardens in March) when Amokura was successful 12 months ago, and now relies on another Melbourne ace Mark Zahra.

Zahra rode Kind Words in her latest sixth to Oaks favorite Scarlet Oak in the Group 2 The Roses (2000m) at Doomben on May 25.

“She made nice ground without a lot of luck in the straight, and has done well since at our Gold Coast stable,” Lees said.

Kind Words, a $280,000 Inglis Australian Easter yearling purchase in 2022, races in the same colours for Kiwi owner Lib Petagna as his and Lees’ brilliant 2016 Group 1 heroine Lucia Valentina in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick.

Including The Roses, the Written Tycoon filly hasn’t been far away in stakes races at her last three starts.

After finishing fifth to another Queensland Oaks rival Good Banter in the Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 6, Kind Words ran third to Amazonian Lass in the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) at the Sunshine Coast on May 11.

Lees also runs Zoe’s Promise (Andrew Mallyon) and Age Of Sail (Craig Williams) at Eagle Farm.

He has withdrawn dual acceptor Zoe’s Promise from the Listed Spear Chief Handicap (1500m) to take on her own sex at weight-for-age in the $500,000 Magic Millions Classic (1600m), whilst Age Of Sail begins a new campaign in the Benchmark 90 Handicap (1810m).

Zoe’s Promise was dominant in scoring first-up over 1400m at Eagle Farm on May 4 before tackling Group 3 company and finishing seventh over 1600m at Doomben three weeks later after leading.

“I have had Zoe’s Promise only since late last year and noticed that she has never won second-up from five attempts,” Lees said.

“Obviously this won’t be any easier, but going back to Eagle Farm where she was so impressive will surely help.

“Age Of Sail won first-up over 1600m at Warwick Farm in January after coming from the UK, and then was narrowly beaten at Rosehill.

“He is resuming and going well, and has a good chance.”

Lees had hoped to have two runners in Saturday’s Oaks, but stablemate Bestower fell victim to the balloting axe.

Instead, she will chase a “consolation” at Randwick in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (2000m) against her own age, with Jason Collett aboard.

Bestower followed a totally luckless close second on the Kensington track over 1800m on the Kensington track on May 15 with a late closing eighth, again without much luck, at the same trip in Saturday class at Randwick 10 days later.

“Bestower has been up for a while, but continues to do well,” Lees said. “It’s a very open race, but she isn’t without a chance.”

Collett also partners Galaxy Belle, who comes to town after two country runs back, and will appreciate the rain-affected ground in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m).

Lees also accepted with Snowzone (Kerrin McEvoy) in the Listed Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m), but has to decide if he will run there, or wait for a Benchmark 88 Handicap over the same distance at Canterbury on Monday.

Stable apprentice Ben Osmond will ride the gelding, and take 3kg off his allotted 61kg if he goes to Canterbury.

Story John Curtis, June 6, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos



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