IT goes without saying that no trainer would like to win today’s Max Lees Classic (900m) more than the legendary trainer’s son, Kris.
Now in its second year, the race is set aside for two-year-olds, which is apt given Max Lees is best remembered for his efforts with 1977 Golden Slipper winner Luskin Star and the inaugural Magic Millions winner, Snippets.
Both horses graced the Newcastle racetrack with their presence, Luskin Star won the Cameron Handicap, while Snippets was beaten by subsequent Golden Slipper winner Marauding in the Penfolds Classic, once an important lead-up to the world’s richest two-year-olds’ race.
SHAYNE O’CASS’S BEST BETS
JAZETTE (Race 7, No.13)
A Peter and Wendy Moran-owned/bred sister to Miss Que and Cluster. The Canterbury debut was excellent and she should finish over the top of them here.
SKAGERRAK (Race 6, No.6)
An extremely handsome chestnut filly from the same family as Black Caviar. The James Cummings-trained 3YO was placed here at her second run then spelled. Trialling very well.
LOVE NONE (Race 1, No.2)
Had a torrid run from the wide alley in the Country Classic and did a superb job to be beaten under four lengths. gets the big tick for that effort and back in class for this.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW
CHRISTIAN REITH could well take out the TAB Jockeys Challenge, so long as one of his winners is Jazette — all good.
Race 5: 1,2,4
Race 6: 3,6
Race 7: 4,13
Race 8: 1,2,6,9
SCROLL DOWN FOR SHAYNE’S EXTENDED PREVIEW & TIPS
MATT JONES’S BEST BETS
RUN ALL NIGHT (Race 4, No.13)
The blinkers are expected to help her find her way to the line at full speed rather than slow up waiting for the field to catch up with her. If it works, her talent can get her home.
DEEP BLUE SEA (Race 7, No.1)
I loved the way he was running through the line last start and he can go on with it here. The rise in trip helps him and he’ll look to out-tough his rivals.
MISSILE ATTACK (Race 5, No.5)
In a field with no standout on paper, he can get the job done based on his last run when second. He’s improved since at home too.
Race 4: 2, 6, 13
Race 5: 2, 3, 5, 12
Race 6: 1, 3, 5, 9
Race 7: 1, 10
TRAINER TO WATCH
JENNY GRAHAM could easily win three races with Line Up Girls and Let’s Rebelle her leading hopes in races two and three.
JOCKEY TO WATCH
SCOTT GALLOWAY comes down from Queensland to ride two, Iron Dome and Deep Blue Sea, and they’re both brining good form down south.
The inaugural winner of the Max Lees Classic (900m) was the local, Jonker, who went on to start favourite in the Magic Millions but was knocked down. This year’s race is more about quality than quantity as Lees, who supplies two of the field, agreed.
“It’s looks a small but select field,’’ he said.
“My two horses (Showzone and Vinrose) have trialled well and are going into the race in good order. If there is a future star in the race they’ll beat us but if it is your regular two-year-old race then I suggest they’ll be very competitive.’’
Both of the Lees’ pair wear the colours of Melbourne Cup winner, Protectionist, given they are managed by Australian Bloodstock. Snowzone has trialled twice ahead of his debut, green as grass at his first heat before showing plenty of pace to win his second outing.
“He turned things around — it was a nice trial,” Lees said. “He showed more speed in that second trial and I think he’ll put himself in the right spot. They have both drawn well so they’ll get their chance.’’
Snowzone is a colt who will be monitored closely by studmasters as his career develops given his extraordinary pedigree.
The Cressfield-bred youngster is by Snitzel out of the French mare Snowdrift, whose fourteen offspring include Snowland, Snippetson and Ghisoni’s dam, Portillo.
As for Vinrose, she is a filly bred by Harry and Bill Mitchell at Yarraman Park by their champion stallion I Am Invincible. Vinrose did everything asked of her by jockey Andrew Gibbons when she won her only trial at Newcastle on November 22.
“To be fair to her I would probably would have liked another trial under her belt but it is a 900m at home and if she takes improvement out of that trial, which I feel she has, she will be competitive,’’ Lees said. “I think she has come on the right way and will run well.’’
Lees won’t be able to savour the moment trackside as he will be attending the wedding of Brenton Avdulla and his partner Taylor Paine.
Meantime, prominent breeders Peter and Wendy Moran are set to add another winner to their exorbitant tally when their homebred filly Jazette heads to Newcastle.
The Queenslander’s familiar green and white colours have been worn by some outstanding horses including Mossman, Segments, wondermare Staging and her three Group 1 performed sons, Duporth, Excites and Tickets.
The Moran’s also bred Gold Edition, Pure Energy, Zariz and raised Buffering on their then Noble Park Stud property at Innisplain. Jazette has spent most of her life in Queensland, much like her siblings Cluster, Miss Que and Inkling.
A daughter of Fastnet Rock, Jazette had trialled keenly before her creditable debut at the Canterbury night meeting on November 16.
The Joe Pride-trained three-year-old paid dearly for drawing the outside barrier with Corey Brown left no other option than to drag her right back to near last.
“She jumped well, probably too well, and Corey had to get her back to last otherwise he’d have been three-wide,’’ Peter Moran said. “She came home pretty well, it was just that last 50m that she felt the pinch at her first run.’’
INSIDE MAIL — NEWCASTLE
RACE 1 (12.45pm)
Muswellbrook mare Love None was the victim of a wide draw in the $125,000 Country Classic at Rosehill two weeks ago. Despite all that happened to her, the mare did a great job to be beaten just 3.8-lengths. Allzin came from a long way back to finish 2.4-lengths sixth in the same race. Quality Approach is a player
BET STRATEGY: LOVE NONE win; Quinella 1,2.
RACE 2 (1.20pm)
Loved One was scratched from a race at Kembla to run here and it looks like a winning move. This superbly bred John O’Shea-trained filly is lightly raced and comes here off an impressive track/distance win over two subsequent winners. Maid Marilyn is the leader and will be hard to run down. Seababe has a record of 4s 2-1-0 at the venue.
BET STRATEGY: LOVED ONE win; Exacta 6 to beat 1.
RACE 3 (1.55pm)
The Brad Widdup-trained Sizzled has done nothing wrong in his three starts with two placings and a fourth — that was here on debut to Inherit. Finished sixth in a recent trial, was close and not asked to do much. Looks to have the required talent. Onemoreforluck has finished on the placegetters heels all three runs, Can figure. Tainted Affair is well bred and drawn to race handy.
BET STRATEGY: SIZZLED win.
RACE 4 (2.30pm)
Strasbourg, a $750,000 yearling, has unmistakeable class and quality and was a real eye-catcher when a closing third to Cardiff and Golden Slipper favourite Tassort in recent trial at Canterbury. Scratched from Rosehill on Saturday. Kris Lees would dearly love to win the Max Lees Classic. He has two runners with trial winner Vinrose just ahead of the blue-blooded colt Snowzone.
BET STRATEGY: STRASBOURG win; Exacta 5 to beat 8.
RACE 5 (3.05pm)
Toroso races in the same colours as his champion father Pierro. Bred by Don Storey out of the stakeswinning mare Walk Alone, this gelding has won twice at Hawkesbury from his five career starts. Resumes in the right race. Helmet son Pickelhaube is an ex-Godolphin galloper making his debut for Kris Lees. Handy at his best. Fuchu likes this track and was super here first-up. Could finish over the top.
BET STRATEGY: TOROSO win.
RACE 6 (3.45pm)
Black Caviar relative Skagerrak is a talented filly from the Godolphin camp. She’ll be ready to deliver now at this, her second preparation. If she reproduces her Warwick Farm trial from November 9, she’ll be winning. The danger is her stablemate Sparks, who lost the rider at Kembla, trialled on November 21 and was excellent again. Full Of Fire is next best, but it looks like a Royal Blue quinella.
BET STRATEGY: SKAGERRAK win; Exacta 6 to beat 3; Quinella 3,6.
RACE 7 (4.20pm)
Joe Pride filly Jazette is a sister to Cluster and Miss Que and a half to the stakes-placed Inkling, who went to the States and won at Del Mar at his first run there. Jazette’s first run was hindered badly by her wide draw. Got too far back but got home really well. Should be too good here. That said, Charretera is a handy type who went within a whisker of winning his debut at Hawkesbury. The blowout is Fraudulent — she’s a massive watch here — and at good odds!
BET STRATEGY: JAZETTE win; Box quinella 4,9,13; Box trifecta 4,9,12,13.
RACE 8 (5pm)
Sam Weatherley takes 2kg off the back of Dynamic Bid, which only serves to heighten the chances of the Choisir son. The Gabby Englebrecht-trained chestnut is building up to a win and he was very close to Falerina here two runs back. Tabrobane was disappointing in town last start. Loves this trip and trained here. Oakfield Jet is a half-brother to Hot Danish.
BET STRATEGY: DYNAMIC BID to win.
COFFS Harbour trainer Sally Taylor has had her sights set on Sunday’s Grafton meeting for some time and she brings four hopes to the NSW north coast track.
“I picked out this race day on purpose for all these horses,” Taylor said. “They’re in the right grades and at their best distances. Camayoc is in form and the blinkers going on Run All Night makes me pretty confident about her.”
Camayoc kicks the day off for Taylor in the opening event, a Benchmark 58 Handicap (2200m) and he’s coming off a win at Port Macquarie over 2012m in the same grade of race.
He only has to carry an extra 1.5kg and gets into the race with the lightest weight and Brooke Stower rides him again.
“It was a really good win last start considering he was three-wide the entire way,” Taylor said. “He went from 1400m to 2012m so I had to make sure he was fit and he had plenty of work leading up to it.
“I expected him to at least place. He’s a nine-year-old gelding and he’d just lost his sprint when he ran at Armidale the start before. He could go with them and I knew he was looking for 2000m.”
Drawing widest in gate six is also a plus for Camayoc’s racing pattern. “You’ve got to ride him as quiet as possible,” Taylor said. “The 2200m won’t bother him at all, especially after his last start which would have topped him off beautifully for this run.”
An important gear change is what Taylor is banking on with Run All Night ahead of her Maiden Plate (1100m) race. She’s only having her fourth start and has really come on this preparation following a fourth placing first-up then running second last start at Armidale when she probably should have won.
“Her run at Armidale was really good but unfortunately she hit the front a bit too early and just got a bit lost,” Taylor said. “Peter Graham said she just started digging her toes in before the winning post so I think that’s all that got her beat.”
“I think the blinkers definitely improve her because she’s a spooky little filly. It doesn’t take her much to switch on and she’s got the speed but she needs the blinkers to keep her going once she hits the front. She worked well in them so we were happy to put them on in the race and the big track will suit her.”
She should get a charmed run from barrier one with Matthew Paget on.
“I’m hoping something can go forward and she can sit in the second pair back on the fence,” Taylor said.
Arrogant Boy (in the sixth race) and Tilbury Lodge (in the seventh) are similar types in that they run well without winning.
Tilbury Lodge is at a mile which suits and he’ll be ridden quiet and is one to watch late while Arrogant Boy should be doing the same.