Australian Bloodstock expect Chief Ironside to improve second-up in the Scone Cup, where the Hunter syndication company and Newcastle trainer Kris Lees look likely to have at least three chances on Friday.
Nominations closed on Monday for the listed $160,000 Scone Cup (1600 metres), the feature race of Friday’s meeting. The club’s annual stand-alone Saturday meeting, featuring six black-type races, has been moved to Rosehill.
In the Cup, Lees and Australian Bloodstock have entered 61-kilogram topweight Sixties Groove as well as Big Duke and Chief Ironside, which are equal third on the weights at 58.5kg behind the James Cummings-trained Gaulois (59kg). The combination also have Delectation Girl and Attention Run (both 54kg) in nominations. Delectation Girl, however, is also nominated for Saturday’s Dark Jewel Classic and Luskin Star Stakes.
Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell said Sixties Groove, Big Duke and Chief Ironside were set to contest the Scone Cup, which has acceptances on Wednesday.
Sixtites Groove won the Brisbane Cup last year to cap a quality preparation but he has not raced since pulling up lame in the Wyong Cup in September. Big Duke is also resuming from a long spell. He last raced when last in October’s Caulfield Cup. Both have trialled twice in preparation for Scone.
Chief Ironside won the group 2 Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley last spring and resumed with a five-lengths 10th at Randwick on April 18 over 1400m.
Murrell expected an improved performance over further at Scone.
“I reckon Chief Ironside is a really good horse,” Murrell said.
“I didn’t think he would do much first-up because he’s a big, old stallion, but second-up he should do something.”
Australian Bloodstock have been major players in helping Lees rise to top spot on the NSW trainers’ premiership. Lees has 149 winners for the season, 9.5 ahead of Chris Waller.
In Saturday’s features, Lees has the top three in the ballot for the Luskin Star Stakes – Le Romain, Graff and Miss Fabulass – Zeftabrook in the Woodlands Stakes and Wandabaa and Iconic Star in the Denise’s Joy Stakes. Miss Fabulass is also high in the Dark Jewel order.