Queen Elizabeth Stakes: Kris Lees looks for nice return from pair of outsiders

BIG DAY: Kris Lees after Lucia Valentina’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes win last year. Picture: Getty Images

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ON the number of runners only, Newcastle trainer Kris Lees has twice as good a chanceof winning the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000 metres) than he did last year.

But when Winx is involved, the chances of any other horse winning seemingly disappear.

Lees heads to day two of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday with Sense Of Occasion and Singing chasing a slice of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes prizemoney he claimed the bulk of last year with Lucia Valentina’s stunning last-to-first victory.

Winx bypassed the race last year but will chase a 17thconsecutive career victory on Saturday and the$2.34 million first prize, which would take her to second on Australia’s all-time earners’ list at $12,778,925.

Sense Of Occasion was third in the Doncaster Mile last week and Lees said the following day the Villiers Stakes champion was high unlikely to back up in the Queen Elizabeth. However, Lees changed plans after Sense Of Occasion pulled well and was the likely topweight for his other option, next week’sJRA Plate.

Sense of Occasion was a $101 was TAB Fixed Odds and Singing, which was last in the group 2 Ajax Stakes on March 11, was $201.

“Obviously we’re not going to be beating the mare, but I think they will run well enough to earn connections a good cheque,” Lees said.

Second takes home $760,000 and last in the nine-horse field earns $30,000.

“I’d prefer not to be racing against her,” Lees said of taking on Winx.“I don’t get any thrill out it, that’s for sure”.

“She’s got to be right there,” he said of Winx’s ranking among the greats.“I don’t know how you compare from different eras, but she’s in a pretty dominant frame at the moment.”

Lees said his best chance at Randwick was Danish Twist, which won the Provincial Championship Final on the same day last year.

The five-year-old mare has drawn barrier two for the $1 million Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) and backs up from strong finishes when fifth and third in the Star Kingdom Stakes and Coolmore Classic respectively.

“She’s come a long way in 12 months,” Lees said. “She’s got the right alley to give herself the right chance. It’s a very good race on paper, but I think she will run well.”

Newcastle trainer David Atkins’ Pacific Reign and Lees’ Princess Posh and Clevedon Bay are in the $400,000 Provincial Championships final.Lees also has Zestful and Savoureux (group 2 Sapphire Stakes) and Rosa Carolina (listed South Pacific Classic) racing.

Princess Posh has drawn 18 for the 1400m final but that will become 14 with scratchings.

“It appears a tricky draw but you don’t know until you watch a few races,” Lees said.

“If she can have any type of luck, she’ll be right there and Clevedon Bay is going really well as well.

“I think the favourite [Gwenda Markwell’s Pomelo] will be very hard to beat.”

Muswellbrook trainer Pat Farrell’s Alliterate will also race in the South Pacific Classic.

Meanwhile, Newcastle trainer Paul Perry bought one of the 17 $1 million-plus yearlings sold at this week’s Inglis Easter sales in Sydney.

Perry purchased a Redoute’s Choice-Stareel colt for an even million and two more horses at the three-day sale. The others were a Redoute’s Choice-Jeter colt for $150,000 and So You Think-Cutie Express colt for $220,000.

Lees purchased a Snitzel-Kneeling filly for $450,000 and a Dundeel-Plumm colt for $150,000.