Lees continues to be a dominant force in Country racing, superbly placing his horses to come through the grades, and once again will saddle up a team of horses on Friday that punters are sure to gravitate towards, given the stable’s reputation for producing winners.
The feature Kempsey Cup has attracted a competitive twelve horse field, headed by Paul Shailer’s recent acquisition Top Me Up Again ($3.90).
However, Lees believes that predicated rain could swing the odds in Think Free’s ($4.80) favour, who boasts a record of five soft track wins.
“Any rain that’s forecast would be ideal,” Lees said.
“It’s a little drop in grade and she has won at the track before so that’s always a positive with a track like Kempsey.
“She was narrowly beaten on a Saturday before her run in the Tibbie, but that was probably just a bit of a throw at the stumps to try and get some black type.
“She is deep into a prep, is the only thing I will say, but she continues to work well.
“There’s a few positives going into Friday and I think she’ll run well from a good draw.”
The daughter of So You Think is drawn to get the run of the race from barrier four, just behind the speed, with experienced hoop Andrew Gibbons taking the ride with 61kg.
Gibbons will also combine with Lees earlier in the day in the Showcase Maiden Plate (1000m) on the promising Noble Flame ($2.80), a horse which Gibbons came to grief with at its last start at Newcastle, suffering a fractured sternum and kneecap after clipping heels.
“Noble flame trialled very well,” Lees said.
“It’s a tricky gate but she does look pretty well placed here despite the gate.
“She should go forward and put herself right there.
“Gibbo knows her well, it was no fault of horse or jockey last start, so hopefully he can get back into the winners stall with her.”
The daughter of Dissident bolted in her first of two trials at Newcastle on a heavy (8) track and is another of Lees’ runners that will relish any give in the track. Her biggest obstacle may be barrier 13.
Australian Bloodstock’s Apache Blue and three-year-old Boketto round out Lees’ runners in the Showcase BM58 Handicap (1250m) and he expects that some give in the track will also be in their best interests.
“Apache Blue ($4) he will prob have to work a bit from the gate, which isn’t ideal but any rain around probably helps his chances too,” Lees said.
“Boketto ($10) should get through the ground too and if she can hold her spot midfield, she will get her chance.”
The Taree track is currently rated a soft (5) with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting showers of up to 6mm on Friday.
The Kempsey Cup highlights the eight-race card and jumps at 4.40pm.
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