Kris Lees has put his unprecedented feat of winning the NSW trainers' premiership from the Hunter down to the size of his team and ability to place horses in the right races.
The premier Newcastle trainer finished the 2019-20 season on Friday with 215.5 winners nationwide and 193 in NSW. He was fourth on the national premiership.
Second last season in NSW to national champion Chris Waller, 242 to 221, Lees finished 13.5 wins ahead of the top Sydney trainer in the 2019-20 NSW campaign.
Lees' late father, Max Lees, achieved the remarkable record of twice finishing second in the Sydney premiership while based in Newcastle.
However, Kris is believed to be the first trainer based in the Hunter to claim an overall state premiership.
Lees dominated the NSW country ranks with 115 wins, after scoring 127 the previous season. He had 41 provincial winners, down from 58 in 2019-18, and 35 in town - just one less than the previous campaign.
"It's been a good season but we're fortunate we've got a good number of horses and they probably found their right places," Lees told racing.com this week.
"We're probably very fortunate based in Newcastle, we've got a big area we can target for different horses, and just try to place the right horses in their right place."
His national figures were down from his personal best of 249 the previous season but he kept his spot in fourth.
The 2019-20 season also brought a first state premiership for Thornton jockey Andrew Gibbons, who finished on 124 wins - 1.5 ahead of Blaike McDougall.
Lees will look for a winning start to the new season at Randwick with a three-pronged attack on Saturday. He has Syncline in the benchmark 72 handicap (1300m), Stella Sea Sun in the benchmark 78 (1400m) and Itz Lily in the fillies and mares benchmark 78 (1800m). Lees also has Chalmers is the benchmark 78 (1800m) but he indicated this week it would not run.
Itz Lily has failed to rediscover her best form in five runs this preparation and Lees has opted to add blinkers on Saturday. In-form apprentice Louise Day is aboard Itz Lily and Stella Sea Sun with her three-kilogram claim.
Syncline steps up to city grade after winning at Taree and Hawkesbury this time in following being gelded.
"Syncline struck a heavy track when he led throughout in a class 1 handicap (1300m) on heavy ground at Hawkesbury on July 12, and has trained on well," Lees told his website.
"Stella Sea Sun likes Randwick and wet ground, and Louise's claim will be very helpful."
"She just needs a bit of luck to be right in the finish."
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