Kris Lees' 2000th career winner came up on the Kensington track today, courtesy of a horse racing in the same colours as a mare who gave him his biggest success and three of his so far 15 Group 1 triumphs.
Killin ($9), with Tim Clark aboard, led throughout in the 3YO Benchmark 74 Handicap (1100m), easily holding off the previously unbeaten $1.75 favorite Tailleur to clinch a city breakthrough.
The lightly-raced Snitzel three-year-old is part-owned by New Zealander Lib Petagna, for whom Lees landed the 2016 $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick with Lucia Valentina, whose other Group 1 victories were two years earlier, in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens and Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
Lees wasn't at Randwick today, and, ever modest, took the training milestone in his stride.
"It's as much an achievement for the staff who have been with me right through," he said.
"I'm fortunate to have such good people with me, and they deserve great credit."
It has been another successful season for Lees, who has topped 200 winners for the second year in a row and is front-runner for a NSW premiership title with 187 wins, ahead of Sydney maestro Chris Waller (174.5), with only 13 days remaining.
Killin was his 210th for the current season, following on from a benchmark 249 last season.
It was only a few seasons ago that his own record was 161, and he quickly erased that with 192 the following season (2017-18).
Lees took out his training licence in 1996, and won his first race in September that year on his home track at Broadmeadow with Cherokee Lass, raced by his good friend Ed Throsby.
He prepared only a couple of horses at the time as a side to his main role as foreman for his father Max, who passed away in August, 2003.
Though unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight taking over his father's big stable at 32 years of age, he hit the ground running, earning $2.25m prizemoney for his owners in his first full season and clinching a Group 1 breakthrough with County Tyrone only 13 months' after his father's death.
A $340,000 2018 Inglis Australian Easter yearling sale purchase, Killin has raced only six times since joining Lees' Newcastle team early last year after seconds at his first two starts in New Zealand.
He finished second at three of his four Australian starts, and was gelded after being beaten when favorite by Diva Bella in a Gosford Maiden Plate (1200m) on Anzac Day.
That along with Lees' decision to remove blinkers has done the trick with Killin, who easily won a Gosford Maiden (1000m) on June 30 leading into today's victory.