The Kris Lees trained Clearly Innocent is set to make his Group 1 debut when he lines up in the $700,000 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Lees said that Clearly Innocent has earned his chance at the top level after scoring back to back wins in the Listed $150,000 Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Scone’s Metropolitan meeting on May 13.
While Lees admits that it is a giant step up in class to the Kingsford-Smith Cup, formerly known as the BTC Cup, the leading Newcastle trainer would be happy with a top three finish that would earn him points to towards gaining a start in the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 10.
“This is a big step up from Listed class to Group 1 so it will be interesting to see how he races,” Lees told The Daily Telegraph.
“If he can finish in the first few it might earn him a little bit extra in the weights (for the Stradbroke Handicap).’’
Even though Clearly Innocent is yet to win at Group level, Lees in fairly confident that the Not A Single Doubt five year old will be allocated enough weight to make the field for the Stradbroke handicap.
Clearly Innocent drew barrier nine in the original draw in the fourteen horse Kingsford-Smith Cup field but will move in one space with the early scratching of the Bjorn Baker trained Egyptian Symbol who drew gate three.
Baker has elected to run Egyptian Symbol in the Group 3 $150,000 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1300m).
Leading Group 1 rider Hugh Bowman will stick with Clearly Innocent after he guided the gelding to a two and a quarter lengths win in the Luskin Star Stakes.
Clearly Innocent was a prolific winner for retired trained Greg Bennet with seven victories before being transferred to Kris Lees who was able to find the winner’s stall with the gelding at his second start for the stable.
Clearly Innocent has been very solid in the betting for the Kingsford-Smith Cup and sits alongside of the Lindsay Park trained Derryn at $6.50 with only Black Heart Bart ahead of them at $3.40 in the Ladbrokes.com.au market order.
A win by Clearly Innocent in the Kingsford-Smith Cup will consolidate his spot at the top of the Stradbroke Handicap market order where he currently sits at $9 just ahead of Saturday’s rival Black Heart Bart at $11.