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  • Provincial Racing NSW


BLINKERS come off Ucalledit at Royal Randwick on Saturday as he attempts to become only the second horse to win two Civic Stakes.

Stable apprentice Dylan Gibbons rides the former New Zealander in the $200,000 Listed 1400m feature.

Danny Beasley was in the saddle when the gelding defeated King Of Hastings and Cisco Bay in last year’s edition run on a ‘Soft 5’.

The now six-year-old followed up by also winning another Listed event, the Winter Stakes, also over 1400m, at Randwick a fortnight after his Civic triumph when Gibbons rode him.

The prolific winner Magic Gleam (1988-89) is the only horse to have won the Civic Stakes twice.

Coincidentally, Magic Gleam, originally trained at Warwick Farm by Harry Clark, later was prepared by Lees’ late father Max, who won a stack of races with the gelding.

However, the records do not show if it was Clark or Max Lees who trained him in his Civic (formerly Handicap) victories.

Ucalledit has done plenty of travelling in recent times, and is coming off an unplaced run in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben on May 25, but there was a plausible excuse.

He pulled up with cardiac arrhythmia, and was cleared to resume his career after finishing second to now retired former stablemate Special Reward in a 1200m Scone barrier trial on June 12.

“Ucalledit is in good order, and I’m hoping the track stays in the soft range,” Lees said on Friday morning.

“He doesn’t fancy it when the ground gets too heavy.

“Whereas Ucalledit drew well last year, he has drawn awkwardly this time and has an extra 3kg, but with the right conditions he can never be ruled out.”

Lees has five other Randwick runners, including dual venue acceptors Galaxy Belle and Imposant, who have been withdrawn from the corresponding Newcastle meeting.

Galaxy Belle (Jason Collett) and Blackcomb (Gibbons) contest the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1800m), and Imposant (Gibbons) lines up in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1300m).

“Both Blackcomb and Galaxy Belle are in a tough race and have place chances, and Imposant is a lightly-raced filly who is up in class, but going well and capable of figuring in the finish.”

Lees says the prospects of Snowzone (apprentice Ben Osmond) in the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1200m) would be enhanced by rain, before the gelding heads back to Queensland now that the winter carnival is nearly over.

Lord Biscay (Gibbons) is an interesting runner in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m), and makes his Australian debut minus a cross-over nose band.

The UK import has won two of his five starts, and has had two trials to prepare him for his resumption, having not started since last September.

“Lord Biscay is a nice horse who is coming to hand well,” Lees said. “He can run well, but undoubtedly will take improvement from this race.”

. Provided topweight Luncies (Ryan Maloney) handles the tricky Ipswich circuit, Lees is confident he will make his presence felt in the $250,000 Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) tomorrow.

“Luncies’ two Brisbane runs this time have been good, and we decided to bypass the wfa Q22 (2200m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday to focus on the Ipswich race,” Lees said.

“All going well, he will continue on to the Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast in a fortnight.”

. Though Galaxy Belle and Imposant are absentees from Newcastle, Lees still has five representatives, and considers So Newchee Thinks (Maiden Plate, 1900m) and Rum Diary (Class 1 Handicap, 1400m) are amongst the best of them.

. Along with Luncies, Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Brad Widdup will have two runners at the Ipswich Cup meeting, and Ciaron Maher also has a representative from his Newcastle base.

Widdup starts Fire Lane (Robbie Dolan) in the Class 3 Plate (1100m) and Sneaky Paige (Cejay Graham) in the Listed Gai Waterhouse Classic (1200m).

Maher’s seven-times winner Blaze A Trail (Maloney), a noted first-up performer, tackles the Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1200m) minus blinkers.

Story John Curtis, June 21, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos

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