SCONE, SWEET HOME

In­no­cent’s per­fect record

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING - RAY THOMAS

IT is not of­ten that cham­pion jockey Hugh Bow­man is re­duced to be­ing a vir­tual pas­sen­ger but even he con­ceded it was all about Clearly In­no­cent.

“He knows the track bet­ter than me and he showed me the way home,’’ Bow­man said.

Clearly In­no­cent, the epit­ome of a track spe­cial­ist, was back to his dy­namic best with a typ­i­cally ar­ro­gant win in the Listed $150,000 Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Scone yes­ter­day.

It was Clearly In­no­cent’s sixth start at Scone for his sixth win, in­clud­ing a sec­ond suc­ces­sive Luskin Star Stakes.

Kris Lees took over the prepa­ra­tion of Clearly In­no­cent from for­mer Scone trainer Greg Bennett and the geld­ing was hav­ing only his sec­ond start for him.

“I guess when you take over a good horse like this, you are on a hid­ing to noth­ing,” Lees said.

“But Greg had laid the foun­da­tion; the horse came to me in won­der­ful con­di­tion so it is great to get this re­sult.’’

The big­gest ova­tion of the two-day Scone car­ni­val was re­served for the re­turn­ing lo­cal hero but wasn’t the sole rea­son Clearly In­no­cent’s win meant so much to Lees.

The fea­ture sprint is named af­ter ar­guably the great­est horse to come out of the New­cas­tle re­gion, the mighty Luskin Star who was trained by Kris’s father, the late Max Lees to win the 1977 ju­ve­nile triple crown in­clud­ing the Golden Slip­per and also that year the Caulfield Guineas.

Clearly In­no­cent ($ 3.50 favourite) en­joyed the fre­netic early tempo and un­leashed his trade­mark storm­ing fin­ish to race away for a 2 ¼ - length win from Snoopy ($ 7) with Gold Sym­phony ($ 11) a close- up third.

“The speed was on which suited Clearly In­no­cent as he got into a nice rhythm,’’ Bow­man said. “Then he showed what a qual­ity horse he is when he sprinted.’’

Lees said he is likely to give Clearly In­no­cent his chance at Group 1 level af­ter the geld­ing bounced back from his first-up Hawkes­bury loss.

“I thought his run at Hawkes­bury was su­per as the times there showed it was hard to come from well back in the field,’’ Lees said.

“He got a per­fect run from Hugh to­day and it was pleas­ing to see him re­ally let down. The plan was to get to the out­side but Hugh had not spent any petrol get­ting up in­side them.

“He got a per­fect run through and I don’t think that it would have mat­tered where he went in the straight.

“If he pulls up well, we will look at the 1300m weight­for-age Group 1 race in Bris­bane in two weeks.

“This horse may not be that well suited at weight­for-age but he is a horse in great form and it is two weeks from there into the Strad­broke Hand­i­cap.’’

Kris Lees yes­ter­day. Hugh Bow­man on Clearly In­no­cent. Pic­ture: Jenny Evans

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