I Say Hello to line up in inaugural winter Carnival

Promising filly I Say Hello has a Brisbane winter carnival berth in the offing when she lines up at Gosford’s inaugural metropolitan stand-alone meeting tomorrow.

Trainer: Kris Lees
Trainer: Kris Lees Picture: (Mark Evans/Getty Images)

The lightly-raced three-year-old faces her stiffest test in the $500,000 The Coast (1600m) for three and four-year-olds as Kris Lees gauges her potential to tackle feature events against her own sex up north in the coming weeks.

Lees earlier this week nominated I Say Hello  for two $600,000 Group 1 classics; the Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on May 29, and Queensland Oaks (2200m) there a week later.

The Oaks is normally run prior to the Derby, but not this year.

I Say Hello, an Iffraaj filly who races in the Coolmore colours, has raced only five times for three wins and two placings.

After scoring in restricted class at Newcastle (1200m) on March 30 and Hawkesbury (1300m) on April 14, I Say Hello rose in class and ran an excellent third to All Hallows' Eve (a rival again tomorrow) in the Group 3 JHB Carr Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 24.

Lees dually accepted with the filly at the Gosford meeting, and opted for The Coast rather than the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m), also for three and four-year-olds.

"The Coast is an ideal race carrying big prizemoney to test her for Group targets in Brisbane," Lees said this morning.

"I'm confident she will handle at least 1600m, and her performance tomorrow will give us a better idea whether to head north for The Roses as a lead-up to the Oaks."

The $250,000 Group 2 Roses (2000m) will be run at set weights for three-year-old fillies on the same program as the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m), where Lees holds a strong hand with All-Star Mile winner Mugatoo.

Jay Ford will ride I Say Hello, who comes in on the minimum weight (52kg), tomorrow and Jason Collett partners stablemate and year older Game Of Thorns.

Four-year-old Game Of Thorns was placed at three of her first four starts this campaign, then was freshened and finished fourth in Kembla Grange's 1400m heat of the Provincial Championships before running fifth to stablemate Cristal Breeze in the 1400m Final at Randwick on April 17.

"She drew awkwardly that day, and made good ground to be beaten less than two lengths," Lees said.

"I'm sure she will be strong at the end of the 1600m tomorrow."

Lees also has representatives in tomorrow's other features, the $250,000 Listed Gosford Gold Cup (2100m) and $150,000 Listed Takeover Target Stakes (1200m).

Aliferous  (Robbie Dolan) contests the Gold Cup, and Enchanted Heart (Collett) tackles the Takeover Target.

"Aliferous has been racing well, and didn't have much luck at her last run on the Kensington track with 58kg on Anzac Day," Lees said.

"She drops to 53kg, and won't mind the wet track at all.

"Enchanted Heart can bounce back from her last run at Randwick when she pulled up slightly lame.

"She beat Lost and Running (his only loss from six starts to date) at Canterbury at her previous start, and is really good on wet ground."

Lees' other Gosford runners are High Opinion (Sam Clenton) and My Swashbuckler (Collett) in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (2100m).

He withdrew High Opinion from today's Wagga Cup (2000m), preferring softer ground for the nine-year-old.

"High Opinion is going well," Lees said. "It was a hidden run last time on the Kensington track over 1800m; he should have finished closer.

"My Swashbuckler  was good scoring easily at Gosford last time over 1900m.

"He goes up in class, but handles soft ground and I expect him to be very competitive again."

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