TODAY'S OAMARU (NZ) MEETING HAS BEEN ABANDONED DUE TO WEATHER AND STATE OF TRACK

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Lees Has Faith In Gem Song

Trainer Kris Less expects his three-year-old Gem Song, a beaten favourite at Doomben last Saturday, to bounce back with a riding change and different tactics in his first Group One attempt this weekend.

Gem Song had his first start in open company last Saturday but could finish only third to Hawkesbury Gold Cup winner Archedemus in the Listed Members’ Quality (1600m).

“On face value, Gem Song was probably a touch disappointing,” Lees admitted. “But I’m confident he will bounce out of that race really well.

“We took advantage of his inside draw and rode him close to the lead because they weren’t making ground.

“As a result, he was exposed a little early and still fought on right to the line and was beaten less than a length.”

Blake Shinn, who won the G3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m) on Gem Song at Eagle Farm on April is back on the colt in Saturday’s $700,000 Doomben Cup (2000m) replacing Ron Stewart.

Lees is hoping to have as many as four representatives in the Cup – which he won two years ago with now retired Sense Of Occasion – but fears Hawkesbury Cup placegetter Sixties Groove won’t make the cut when the final field is declared on Wednesday.

As well as Gem Song, Lees will accept with Big Duke and wet tracker Hallelujah Boy.

“The ground looks as though it will be softer in Brisbane, which will suit Big Duke,” Lees said.

“I’ll accept with Sixties Groove at Doomben and also the Lord Mayor’s Cup at Rosehill on Saturday.

“He’ll stay for Rosehill if he doesn’t get into the Cup field.”

A maximum 16 horses can start in the Doomben Cup, with provision for five emergencies.

Lees also plans to accept with Australian Oaks fourth placegetter Aliferous in both Saturday’s G2 Doomben Roses (2000m) and the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill.

“We’ll have a look at both fields and then make a decision which way to head,” he said.

Lees will be running Grand Bouquet and Itz Lily in the Roses, the traditional lead-up to the $500,000 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Doomben on June 1.

The former is already at his Gold Coast base, having remained there after finishing fifth to another Oaks contender Winning Ways in the Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) on May 4.

Snitzel filly Itz Lily, who has been in great form on provincial and country tracks in NSW, will be sent north this week.


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