Lees wishes more distance for Longbottom

Kris Lees says he wishes the race was 100m longer for Longbottom as she bids to break through for an overdue city victory at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer: KRIS LEES
Trainer: KRIS LEES  Picture: Racing and Sports

Nonetheless, he feels she will run well in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (10100m).

Longbottom  has been placed at her last three starts – all at Randwick – since returning to her Newcastle base after an Ipswich 1100m victory in April, and Jason Collett will ride the Sidestep filly for the first time.

Longbottom won her first two starts at Muswellbrook and Eagle Farm over 1000m when prepared by Brett Cavanough at Scone, and her two subsequent wins since joining Lees' team have been at 1100m.

"I would have preferred 1100m for her on Saturday, but the race presented itself at 1000m, so you just have to take it," Lees said this afternoon.

"Longbottom is a consistent mare, and I'm sure she will be hitting the line hard again.

"She has trained on well since her latest third (behind stablemates Witherspoon and Zaniah) over 1000m at Randwick on June 20 on heavy ground, which she will strike again on Saturday."

The rail is 4m out for the meeting, and a "Heavy 9" rating was posted today.

Lees is looking forward to taking Cristal Breeze back to the races after the import scored – albeit against only five rivals – at his Australian debut at Canterbury on June 10.

The lightly-raced four-year-old handled a "Heavy 10" that day to win a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m).

Hugh Bowman rode him that day, but is on a break and premier jockey James McDonald takes over for the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1300m).

"I have given Cristal Breeze a good gap between races, and he is in terrific order," Lees said.

"I'm sure he will appreciate the bigger stretches at Randwick, and is nicely drawn. There's no reason why he should not run well again."

Lees is giving Continuation (non-claiming apprentice Robbie Dolan) a good chance at double figure odds in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (2400m).

"He has now had three runs this time in and his latest effort at Warwick Farm over 2140m was good," he said.

"Continuation was runner-up over the Kensington 2400m last December, and drops 5kg on his recent Warwick Farm placing."

Hallelujah Boy (apprentice Jean Van Overmeire), Articus (apprentice Louise Day) and High Opinion (Collett) all will line up in the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1800m).

Hallelujah Boy  needs to lift, Articus was luckless at his last run and High Opinion has been freshened and won over 2000m at Randwick two runs back," Lees said.

Winkers go on Riva Capri  (Collett) in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m). "I'm hoping they will help keep her focused," Lees said.

"She has been placed at two of her last three runs, and isn't without a chance."

Lees' other Randwick acceptor is Calibration (Brenton Avdulla), but his trainer is currently undecided whether he will go ahead and run him in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m).

. Lees has four acceptors at his home track meeting on Saturday, but two of them – Awesome Lad and Controlthewitness – are also entries for another Newcastle meeting on Tuesday.

"I'll accept with both horses in the morning and then have a look at the fields and barriers, and decide which way to go with them," Lees said.

Great Danger (Andrew Gibbons) will definitely run in the Conditional Benchmark 70 Handicap (1400m), as will Sorrentina (apprentice Tom Sherry), in the Class 1 Handicap (1500m).

Racing and Sports