SCONE, SWEET HOME
Innocent’s perfect record
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