Leading Newcastle-based trainer Kris Lees has not tasted Group 1 success in over five years, but his drought at the highest level of racing could be over when Sharnee Rose and Lucia Valentina contest the 2014 Coolmore Classic at Rosehill Gardens tomorrow.
The 2014 Coolmore Classic is an extremely open affair and Sharnee Rose and Lucia Valentina have both received plenty of support in betting after impressing in their lead-up runs to the Group 1 event.
Sharnee Rose started her 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival with a fourth place finish in the Group 2 Breeders Classic (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 15 and maintained her strong partnership with jockey Brenton Avdulla when she stormed home late to finish second behind Catkins in the Group 3 Wiggle Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on March 8.
The daughter of Nadeem is yet to record a win at Group 1 level, but Lees told RSN this morning that he believes the five-year-old is one of several winning chances in the $600,000 Coolmore Classic this weekend.
“He (Avdulla) has had a real good association since he went on her and he has been pretty happy with her two runs back,” Lees said.
“I’m pleased with how she has prepared and it looks a suitable race.
“There is a lot of depth in the race and luck in running is going to play a big part, but I think she is going as well as she has ever gone.”
Lucia Valentina joined the Lees stable after she finishing second behind Rising Romance in the Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie in New Zealand on New Year’s Day and she made her Australian debut with an impressive third in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on March 8.
The Savabeel filly is being prepared for a tilt at both the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) and Lees is confident that she will be storming home late in the Coolmore Classic this weekend.
“She is really nice filly,” Lees said.
“She had a pretty tough summer in New Zealand so we have been pretty kind to her and we haven’t given her a lot of work.
“We expected her to run well, but she probably ran a little bit better than we expected.
“She hasn’t done a lot heading into this race and she will go into the Vinery in two weeks.
“I think there is going to be a fair bit of pressure up front and she will be one, with no weight on her back that is going to be strong late.
“My little concern is that she looks a little dour now that she is getting ready for longer races, but she is a nice filly.”
Lees is chasing his first win at Group 1 level since champion filly Samantha Miss took out the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) during the 2008 Spring Racing Carnival.