Lees Trio Ready For Doomben Cup

Trainer Kris Lees is growing in confidence that his three-year-old Gem Song can become the second member of his age group to win the $700,000 Doomben Cup this century.

Some 13 three-year-olds have contested the Doomben Cup this century but the only one the age group to score since 2000 was Akhenaton (Glen Boss) in 2000. He led throughout over 1 1⁄4 m only six weeks after winning his first race at Newcastle.

Akhenaton also won the Gunsynd Classic (then known as the Doomben Classic) a fortnight before his Doomben Cup success. Gem Song also won the Gunsynd Classic (1600m) against his own age at Eagle Farm on April 27 at his Queensland debut,

Gem Song was beaten but not disgraced when favorite at his first open company test when third to Archedemus and Tom Melbourne in the Listed Members’ Handicap (1600m) at Doomben last Saturday.

“I still feel Gem Song is the pick of our three runners,” Lees said. “He has continued to do well at the Gold Coast, and certainly hasn’t gone backwards.

“He has drawn midfield and should get a nice run. I don’t think he’ll have any problems with the 2000m.

Lees will have his biggest ever representation in a Doomben Cup after Hawkesbury Cup placegetter Sixties Groove made the field at the expense of stablemate Hallelujah Boy.

He joins Gem Song (Blake Shinn) and Big Duke (Sam Clipperton) to give Lees three chances of a second G1 success this season and 16th overall.

A foot injury ruled out Hallelujah Boy influencing Lees to send Sixties Groove north, bypassing the Listed Lord Mayor’s Cup (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.

Lees has had only two previous runners in Doomben Cups, Slow Pace finishing last to Streama in 2014 before Sense Of Occasion relished the wet ground to win in 2017.

Lees has booked Larry Cassidy for Sixties Groove, who had his first start since joining the leading Newcastle trainer’s team when an excellent third to rival Doomben Cup runner Archedemus in the G3 Hawkesbury Cup (1600m) on April 27.

“Big Duke is very capable and has been freshened since the Sydney Cup at Randwick in April whilst Sixties Groove is in good order and has had a nice break of three weeks since the Hawkesbury Cup,” Lees said.

Lees is bearing down on his best ever season with 187 winners and nearly $12 million in prizemoney midway through May.

Lees also runs Miss Que (Bright Shadow Quality) and Aliferous and Itz Lily (The Roses) at Doomben on Saturday but has withdrawn Marcellina from the Benchmark 75 Handicap over 2000m.

Corey Brown rides Miss Que and Itz Lily, and Jason Collett partners Aliferous.

Miss Que, Itz Lily and Aliferous joined Sixties Groove on the float to the Gold Coast on Thursday.

“Miss Que is going to the National Broodmare Sale at the Gold Coast at the end of the month,” Lees said.

 “Aliferous has been freshened since finishing fourth in the ATC Oaks at Randwick last month and I was happy with how she trialled at home recently.

“It’s a big step up in class for Itz Lily, but she has earned the chance. Both fillies have drawn well.”

Stablemate Grand Bouquet is third emergency and yet to secure a start. She remained at the Gold Coast after finishing fifth to Winning Ways in the Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) on May 4 on a heavy track.


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