A career-best run from Doukhan to finish second at $101 in the group 3 Craven Plate (2000 metres) was among encouraging performances on a winless day for Newcastle trainer Kris Lees on Saturday.
The 10-year-old former French gelding, first-up from a spell, lifted late in the heavy going to edge out favourite Egg Tart for second behind Moss ‘N’ Dale.
“It was a career-best run,” Lees said. “He always loves a wet track but to beat some of those good weight-for-age horses, it was amazing.”
The return of 2017 Everest runner Clearly Innocent was another highlight. The seven-year-old gelding was strong late to finish third in the $500,000 Everest consolation, the Sydney Stakes (1200m). It was his first run since last in the George Ryder Stakes in March. Tactical Advantage was fourth.
“Tactical Advantage probably didn’t sprint like he can with the wet ground,” Lees said. “It took it out of his legs but Clearly was good.”
Evalina flashed home for second in the listed Reginald Allen Quality (1400m).
“It was a huge run,” Lees said. “She stepped slow early and was out the back. The leaders ran a slow time and she still ran them to a head.”
In Melbourne, Gem Song was scratched from the Caulfield Guineas after a temperature spike and Thousand Guineas favourite Smart Melody led but faded to finish seventh. Lees said Smart Melody would be spelled but stablemate El Dorado Dreaming, which was 11th, may race on.
“Smart Melody went a bit fierce in front and El Dorado Dreaming just felt the firm ground so I’m undecided where to go with her,” Lees said.
He said Gem Song was probably continue his campaign in Melbourne.
The Paul Perry-trained Ragged Rascal was 10th in the Caulfield Guineas and Ducale was 11th in the Thoroughbred Club Stakes.
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