Trainer Kris Lees is keen to put star apprentice Dylan Gibbons’ 3kg claim to good use to give ex-Kiwi filly Per Inaway her best chance to post back-to-back Rosehill wins on Saturday.


Trainer Kris Lees (Pic: Steve Hart)

There’s no doubt Per Inaway created a big impression with her first-up win a fortnight ago and Lees says offsetting her rise in weight, to carry less but stay in the same grade in the Robert Patricks Handicap (1300m), is crucial.

It was something of a grinding win over the 1200m but she was strong late after enjoying the run of the race and Lees is adamant she’ll relish a bit further.

“She’s not a big filly so I elected to put Dylan on to get 3kg off her back which I think will be beneficial for her,’’ Lees said.

“She got a lovely run in transit from Brenton (Avdulla) and put them away nicely and she’s suited up in trip.

“She pleased us since she’s been with us, a nice purchase from Australian Bloodstock. She’ll get seven furlongs to a mile in time.”

Per Inaway attracted some support to start $5 first-up and she was $3.50 with TAB on Thursday on the back of her local debut win.

Lees isn’t putting the cart before the horse when it comes to the filly’s future but needless to say with the record she’s building, five starts for three wins, she’s heading in the right direction.

“If they’re good enough they will earn their way into a stakes race in time,’’ he said.

“She’s a three-year-old filly who can handle all ground so it’s the right time of year for her. I think she will react well on top of the ground.”

French Marine has been faced with a series of wet tracks this campaign and Lees said he’s been something of a surprise packet as he steps onto a good surface in the Barry Cook Handicap (1300m) for the first time this year.

The gelding started favourite when running a closing third behind Cotehele at Randwick three weeks ago and the switch back to firmer footing is Lees’s main query.

“I’m a little guarded now going on firm ground at Saturday level but prior to this preparation I didn’t consider him a wet tracker,’’ he said.

“He’s a tough little fellow and he’s coped really well with it. He puts himself on speed, he has a low draw and no weight so he gets a few ticks from that perspective.

“To be fair to the horse he’s done a remarkable job, he’s been in work a long time, but I never considered him to be a Sydney Saturday grade horse.

“But he ran very well in the Provincial Final, albeit on a heavy track, and the form around him has stood up to proper company with Kiss Sum and Rustic Steel in the finish with him.”

The four-year-old finished third in the Provincial Championships Final behind stablemate Kinloch and he split subsequent Group 3 winner Kiss Sum (second) and The Coast and Scone Cup winner Rustic Steel (fourth).

Lees pushed the reset button on Miracle Day’s campaign after he pulled up lame following a race at Warwick Farm on Australia Day and offers a word of caution about his first-up prospects in the NSW Bookmaker’s Co-Op Handicap (1100m).

He says Miracle Day has returned in good shape for his winter preparation but it’s a different ball game compared to kicking off in a Muswellbrook maiden.

“He’s coming up well. Last preparation he went from a maiden to midweek company and now he’s starting in Saturday grade,’’ Lees said.

“I’m a little guarded from that perspective, but it’s the right time of year for that style of horse.

“He’s pleased in a couple of soft trials and looks really well, to be fair I haven’t got him screwed down like he was last preparation so there’s improvement in him.”

The Newcastle trainer kicks off the meeting with two-year-old filly Razeta in the ATC Bookmakers Recognition Day Handicap (1400m) and he’s quietly confident of her measuring up.

She takes on last start metro winners Osipenko and Kibou but in her favour is a weight advantage and the form stacking up from her debut win at Wyong where she beat Fielding and Oakfield Duke, both of which have won this week.

“She beat the older horses which is always a good guide for a two-year-old, albeit the right time of year to do it,’’ Lees said.

“I think she will be suited 1100m up to 1400m, she gets away from a couple of the fancied runners at the weights and a nice barrier so there’s a few ticks.”

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