Trainer Kris Lees was leaning towards a Sydney lead-in to the Doncaster Mile for Prized Icon and has not ruled out a shot at Friday’s group 3 Newcastle Newmarket Handicap with Clearly Innocent.
Prized Icon was seven-lengths second to Winx in the group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) on Saturday at Randwick in just his third start for Lees.
The Newcastle trainer was weighing up on Sunday the next assignment for the dual group 1 winner, which is nominated for the $1.5 million Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 10.
Lees will make a decision on Monday on whether to send the Gooree Stud stallion south or instead race him in the group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) on March 17 or the group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) on March 24 at Rosehill.
“Coming second to Winx, I’ve been there before and you don’t like to run second, but you’ve got to take it for what it is and he ran really well,” Lees said.
“He will definitely run again before the Doncaster but we’re a bit up in the air as to where.
“As for the Australian Cup, I’ve got to make a decision tomorrow, but I’m probably leaning towards not going.
“I probably just want to try to work out a couple of other races in Sydney and what weight he’s going to get. There’s some nice handicap races he could run in.”
At home, Lees is eyeing Friday’s $150,000 Newcastle Newmarket (1400m) with Sound Proposition and Clearly Innocent.
While Sound Proposition will run first-up in the feature, Clearly Innocent remained only a chance. Another of Lees’ Doncaster hopes, Clearly Innocent could instead race in the group 1 Canterbury Stakes on Saturday at Randwick.
“We’ll just have a look at how strong the Canterbury Stakes is,” Lees said. “And if we knew we were going to get rain here, that could sway us to stay here. I haven’t ruled it out.”
Nominations close 11am Monday. Godolphin’s Scone Cup winner, Duca Valentinois, and Spectroscope were among 15 early nominations. Duca Valentinois appears a likely starter.
The Chris Waller-trained Amovatio, Endless Drama, Life Less Ordinary, Mackintosh, McCreery, Mister Sea Wolf and Tom Melbourne were also nominations.
The Mark Newnham-trained Lanciato appears a leading chance. The other nominations were Brett Partelle’s Invincible Quest and Paris For Me and the John Thompson-trained Special Missile.
Meanwhile, Lees qualified Just Dreaming for the $500,000 Provincial Championship final while scoring a treble and his 100th winner for the season on Saturday at Wyong.
Just Dreaming, with Aaron Bullock aboard from gate nine, came down the outside from back in the field to win by three-quarters of a length from Kim Waugh’s Manhattan Mist. Brad Widdup’s Witches was third to also qualify.
Just Dreaming was the $2.70 favourite for the 1350m race, which was the first of five $150,000 regional heats.
“She had a bit of work to do from a tricky draw, which was always going to be a chance,” Lees said. “She had to get out and around them, so it was a good solid win.”
Furore also saluted for Lees and Bullock on the program, making it four wins from four starts this prep.
The Pierro gelding was a $15 chance for the Australian Derby with TAB Fixed Odds on Sunday.
“He’s doing a good job and at this stage he may even go to a Rosehill Guineas,” Lees said. “He’d be jumping a few grades, but with three year olds, you’ve got to test them at some stage to see where they line up for some of the better options.”
“He’s going to run in something before the Derby if we’re going to get there. But we’re mindful that it’s his first preparation so at some stage we’re going to have to pull up, but at the moment he’s going well.”
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