Le Romain upstaged dominant favourite Press Statement to score an upset win in the 2016 Royal Randwick Guineas this afternoon.
Press Statement started the Royal Randwick Guineas as a $1.40 favourite, but Hugh Bowman found himself blocked for a run at the top of the straight after jockey Christian Reith put him in a pocket.
Le Romain was off and running before Press Statement found clear running, but the Caulfield Guineas winner eventually received a run
Press Statement was given every chance to run down Le Romain in the last 200 metres, but the son of Hard Spun held on bravely to record easily the biggest win of his racing career to date.
Le Romain started his campaign with a win in a benchmark event at Royal Randwick on January 23 and Lees said that he has been delighted with the way that Le Romain has improved at each start this preparation.
“It is a great thrill,” Lees said.
“He just kept handling every step that we have put in front of him and he has raised the bar every time.
“He didn’t have a great run again, but he got cover and Christian was able to make his move at a vital stage.
“It is a bloody long straight and it was good to see him get home.
“I didn’t think that Hughie have spent much petrol and I just thought he was stalking and ready to let rip in that last furlong, but our bloke has really fought hard and it was a good solid win.
“He won’t get much further and a mile will probably pull him up – he is a genuine seven furlongs horse.
“He is a pretty smart horse.”
Reith has struggled to find quality rides in Sydney since he returned from Hong Kong 12 months ago, but he produce an absolute peach to claim his first Group 1 victory since he took out the 2013 Spring Champion Stakes on Complacent.
An emotion Reith admitted that he has had a tough year, but he said that he was delighted to be able to show with the Royal Randwick Guineas victory that he still has the ability to get the job done on the big occasion.
“It has been a bit of a tough 12 months,” Reith said.
“My old man isn’t doing too good and ever since I got back from Hong Kong it has been hard getting decent rides, but it just shows today that once I get a decent ride that I can get the job done.
“I knew exactly where he (Press Statement) was, I knew that when I let go I had to go quick because he had to come back and get outside me.
“My fellow is very gallant, he is a tough horse and he has a lot of improvement.
“Even though he has won a Group 1 today, he is still learning.”
Neither Le Romain nor Press Statement are expected to press on to the Rosehill Guineas, but third placegetter Montaigne is expected to contest the Group 1 event following her fast-finishing third.