Fa­mil­iar cir­cuit a Clear boost

The Sportsman Weekend - - News - By RAY HICK­SON

TRAINER Kris Lees has warned de­fend­ing champ Clearly In­no­cent is poised to pro­duce his best form when he re­turns to fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory in the Listed $150,000 Yar­ra­man Park Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Scone tomorrow.

The tal­ented five-year-old boasts an un­beaten record on his for­mer home track af­ter mak­ing it five wins from five starts in tak­ing out the race last year.

Since then he’s switched from Greg Ben­nett, who left train­ing to take up a job with Aquis Farm in Queens­land, Lees and while he fin­ished ninth firstup at Hawkes­bury his new trainer couldn’t have been hap­pier.

“For a sprint race they didn’t go hard at all, he was back and wide from an awk­ward gate so I thought it was a re­ally good re­turn,” Lees said.

“His sec­tion­als would have been re­ally good and I was pleased with the run.

“He won the race last year so hope­fully we can aim up again.”

Lees de­scribed the Hawkes­bury Rush, won by sta­ble­mate Fe­lines, as a “warm up run” with the Luskin Star the geld­ing’s first main aim this prepa­ra­tion.

Ob­vi­ously when you’re asked to train a horse with cre­den­tials like Clearly In­no­cent you’re on hid­ing to noth­ing but Lees said he feels there’s plenty of wins left in him.

“He’s a nice horse, he doesn’t come with any vices and is pretty straight­for­ward,” he said.

A win or a strong fin­ish­ing ef­fort tomorrow would see last year’s Coun­try Champi- on­ship win­ner head north where he’s nominated for the Group 1 Strad­broke Hand­i­cap.

Fe­lines makes her sec­ond trip to Scone tomorrow af­ter prov­ing at Hawkes­bury she doesn’t need a wet track or be re­stricted to 1000m to be ef­fec­tive.

The five-year-old fin­ished third in the Denise’s Joy two years ago and is en­gaged in Listed $150,000 Ar­row­field Orten­sia Stakes (1100m).

“She’s a tough mare, she’ll be com­pet­i­tive again there,” Lees said.

“She’s adapt­able, she han­dles soft re­ally well and it prob­a­bly takes a few of the op­po­si­tion out which can hap­pen with horses like her. “She’s got bet­ter statis­tics at the 1000m but she is ca­pa­ble of stretch­ing a bit.”

Lees isn’t sure what to make of Singing’s chances in to­day’s Listed $200,000 Dar­ley Scone Cup (1600m) af­ter fail­ing to beat a run­ner home in two starts this cam­paign.

To be fair the first was be­hind sub­se­quent Don­caster win­ner It’s Some­what in the Ajax Stakes and the other he was asked to take on Winx the Queen El­iz­a­beth.

“His two runs have been pretty tame to the eye,” Lees said.

“He’s still work­ing as well as his first prepa­ra­tion. He’s been get­ting him­self worked up a bit be­fore the race but hope­fully a cou­ple of runs have taken edge off him.”

On his best form Lees said the seven-year-old stal­lion could be com­pet­i­tive in the Scone Cup, with that best form in­clud­ing a close sec­ond to Sense Of Oc­ca­sion at Listed level in Au­gust last year.

He’s a nice horse, he doesn’t come with any vices and is pretty straight­for­ward. – Kris Lees

Trainer Kris Lees be­lieves Clearly In­no­cent is on tar­get to de­fend his Luskin Star Stakes ti­tle tomorrow

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