Luncies points to Melbourne Cup berth

A Melbourne Cup berth is in the offing for Luncies if he can clinch a Flemington victory on Saturday.

LUNCIES winning the Living Turf (Bm78) at Hawkesbury in Australia.
LUNCIES winning the Living Turf (Bm78) at Hawkesbury in Australia. Picture: Steve Hart

Desperate to find a drier surface after Sydney's wet autumn, Kris Lees kept the import in work and sent him south to run in the Listed $500,000 Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m).

A $300,000 first prize would obviously be a nice collect, but an even bigger reward to gain automatic inclusion into the field for this year's Melbourne Cup (3200m) at the same track on November 1 awaits the Ramsden winner.

Luncies  arrived safely in Melbourne this week and is in the care of stable foreman Cameren Swan, and Lees will be there on Saturday to saddle the grey after chasing tomorrow's $200,000 Listed Scone Cup with Rustic Steel.

"The main aim with Luncies was to find a decent track before he goes out for a break," Lees said this afternoon.

"With Flemington currently a Good 4, he finally gets conditions to suit, and should be hard to beat.

"Obviously, getting a Melbourne Cup run by winning on Saturday would be a terrific bonus."

Craig Williams, who last won the Ramsden in 2008 on Gorky Park for trainer David Hayes (now based in Hong Kong), rides Luncies.

"Forget about Luncies' latest 10th in the Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 9 as he had no luck from a wide draw," Lees said.

"A week earlier, he ran on well when third in the Chairman's Quality (2600m) there."

. Lees has a number of acceptors at Scone's second day on Saturday, but Velvet Lady (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 2200m) and Acquitted (Listed Luskin Star Stakes, 1300m) will be absentees.

Wandabaa  (Hugh Bowman) and Never Talk  (Jason Collett) line up in the Group 3 Dark Jewel Classic (1400m), and both have drawn awkwardly in the capacity field.

"They both get back anyway, and ran well in the Hawkesbury Crown (1300m) a fortnight ago," Lees said.

"With decent luck, they can be very competitive again."

Lees is yet to confirm a replacement rider for an ill Tim Clark on The Bopper , who has been freshened and tackles the Listed Ortensia Stakes (1100m).

"The Bopper drew the outside at Moonee Valley in mid-March at his last run, and didn't have any luck," he said.

"He won a trial on the Beaumont track on April 26. Having drawn awkwardly, we'll ride him back and see if he can finish off."

Redoute's Image  (Dylan Gibbons) has been improved by two runs back, and isn't without a chance in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1300m) for three and four-year-olds.

Zetarita (Gibbons) is third emergency for the Listed Denise's Joy Stakes (1100m) and not yet certain of a start, and may not run even if she does make the field because of a wide draw.

. Lees will run both Acquitted (Sam Clipperton) and Cristal Breeze (Andrew Mallyon) in the Benchmark 85 Handicap (1400m) at Saturday's Doomben Ten Thousand meeting, transferred to Eagle Farm because of the wet weather.

"Acquitted was good when fourth at Randwick last month at his first Australian start, and the Brisbane race is a nice progression for him," Lees said.

"Cristal Breeze has to be taken on trust, but has the ability and wasn't beaten far even though 11th in the Tamworth Cup (1400m) from an awkward draw last time out."


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