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KRIS Lees has decided against chasing a hat-trick with form sprinter Ucalledit in Sydney’s first feature race of the new season at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

But he is definitely seeking a third Coffs Harbour Cup in a row today, this time with Acquitted.

Lees has opted not to run Ucalled in the $300,000 Group 2 Missile Stakes (1100m), run at set weights and penalties.

Successful at his last two starts at Royal Randwick in Listed company, both over 1400m, in the Civic Stakes on June 24 and Winter Stakes a fortnight later, Ucalled’s awkward Missile draw concerned his trainer.

“He has drawn 10 in a field of 11, and would have been coming back from 1400m against some pretty smart sprinters,” Lees said.

“We’ll wait a week for the Spring Preview Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill next Saturday.”

Whilst Ucalledit will be a Missile absentee, the stablemate he beat in the Winter Stakes a month ago is chasing Coffs Cup (1600m) glory, with the $150,000 feature carrying eligibility for the $3m The Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick on November 7 (Lees won the inaugural running last year with Rustic Steel).

Acquitted struck trouble at a vital stage in the straight when runner-up to Ucalledit, and Lees has kept the gelding up to the mark as he strives to clinch a Cup hat-trick, having been successful with Itz Lily (59kg) in 2021, and Hosier (57kg) last year.

Acquitted, who ran third in the Scone Cup (1600m) in May carrying 0.5kg over at 54.5kg, has 58kg.

“It looks enough weight, but he is in great order and I’ve kept him up to the mark with some nice gallops,” Lees said.

“He is drawn out, but will get his chance. I’m sure he can be very competitive.”

Lees will be at Coffs Harbour for the Showcase meeting to saddle up Acquitted, where his gun apprentice Dylan Gibbons will resume from a brief suspension to take the mount.

However, the trainer’s Rosehill team on Saturday has dwindled from five to two.

As well as Ucalledit, Dawn Patrol (Premier’s Cup Prelude, 1800m) and last start winner Powerful Peg (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1500m) also are absentees.

The talented former Irish stayer Dawn Patrol was to make his debut for Lees, but his blood wasn’t 100 per cent.

Instead, Kalapour (Tim Clark) will represent the stable in the Premier’s Cup Prelude, and is on track for a tilt at the $250,000 Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) on September 15.

“Kalapour came of age in Brisbane in the winter, and had a short break at our farm at Ellalong,” Lees said.

“He hasn’t found the easiest of races in which to kick off again, coming up against a promising stayer in Fawkner Park, who is coming through the grades nicely, and he has to give him a fair slice of weight.

“Still, Kalapour has drawn the inside and I feel he can run well. The Newcastle Cup is our plan with him.”

Lees has taken advantage of apprentice Amy McLucas’ 3kg claim to lessen topweight Brudenell’s 62kg impost in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m).

“Brudenell is in great form this preparation, but keeps going up in the weights,” he said.

“He carried 60.5kg last time when beaten by Wategos at Rosehill a fortnight ago, so I had no alternative but to claim.”

Lees has sent Bubba’s Bay and Orlabent to his Gold Coast stable overnight to run at Eagle Farm on Saturday, and Andrew Mallyon will ride the pair.

Bubba’s Bay, a Sydney winner in June, tackles the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1200m) for fillies and mares, and Orlabent, already with three wins in a row to his name, contests a similar race for colts, geldings and entires.

“They’re both promising lightly-raced four-year-olds who look nicely placed in their respective races,” Lees said.

*Words John Curtis, August 3, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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