Familiar circuit a Clear boost
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