Ventura Ocean joins Gem Song for the Archer on Saturday

Kris Lees is the only trainer who will have two runners in the inaugural running of regional Queensland’s richest race at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park on Saturday week.

GEM SONG winning the Egroup Security Star Kingdom
GEM SONG winning the Egroup Security Star Kingdom Picture: Steve Hart

Ventura Ocean  has gained the last spot in the 12-horse field for the $440,000 The Archer (1300m), and joins stablemate Gem Song  (Aaron Bullock).

The Australian Bloodstock import is en route to the Gold Coast tonight for an Eagle Farm assignment on Saturday before backing up a week later in the feature weight-for-age event, modelled on the same lines as Sydney's hugely successful The Everest.

"Australian Bloodstock's Jamie Lovett has been able to secure a slot for Ventura Ocean, so we will give him his chance in The Archer," Lees said this afternoon.

"It's nice to have two representatives, and Gem Song has done well at the Gold Coast since arriving there a week ago."

Rivals for the Lees' pair in The Archer are Streets Of Avalon, Niccanova, Tyzone, Emerald Kingdom, Dawn Passage, Master Jamie, Kubrick, Apace Chase, Crosshaven and Holyfield.

Ventura Ocean was an acceptor for the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1300m) at Hawkesbury's stand-alone meeting on Saturday, but Lees has sent him north searching for firmer tracks.

He will run in the Class 6 Plate (1400m) at Eagle Farm, and Andrew Mallyon, who won two races on the Irish-bred six-year-old at the same track in February and March last year at his first two Australian starts, rides him.

Ventura Ocean resumed when fifth to Constant Flight in the Showcase Wayne Harris Handicap (1280m) at the Muswellbrook Cup meeting on April 1 on a "Heavy 8".

He carried 61kg then, and drops 3.5kg on Saturday.

. Lees has kept Luncies in work, and there is a good chance he will be sent to Melbourne for the $500,000 Listed Andrew Ramsen Stakes (2800m) at Flemington on May 14.

The Ramsden winner automatically becomes exempt from ballot for the Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.

Luncies, who won his first Australian race at the annual Hawkesbury stand-alone meeting 12 months ago, had no luck when 10th in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 9 on a "Heavy 10".

"He may as well have stayed home," Lees said. "I have kept him in work because I want to give him his chance on better ground."

. Last year's All-Star Mile winner Mugatoo will contest a 1200m trial at Randwick on Monday before Lees decides whether he races this time in work.

Mugatoo was to have trialled on his home track earlier in the week, but dislodged his rider Dylan Gibbons at the barrier, bolted around the track and headed back to the tie-up stalls.

"Fortunately he is okay," Lees said. "I'll see how he trials on Monday before we make a decision on his immediate program.

"He could go to the Scone Cup in a fortnight or an Open Handicap in Sydney, or perhaps even Brisbane. We'll wait and see."

Mugatoo is on the comeback trail after sustaining a tendon injury in the Doomben Cup (2000m) last May.

. Lees' other Eagle Farm runners on Saturday are Lunakorn (Benchmark 85 Handicap, 1600m) and Loch Lomond (Class 3 Plate, 1200m).

He has taken a tongue tie off the latter horse.

"Lunakorn ran a better race at Eagle Farm a fortnight ago, and just needs some luck from the outside in a field of nine," Lees said.

"Loch Lomond can mix his form, but has ability and is crying out for better ground."

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