CONNECTIONS will consider a Doncaster run but are looking to a potential Stradbroke campaign after Special Reward led in a Newcastle Newmarket Handicap (1400m) quinella for Australian Bloodstock and trainer Kris Lees on Friday.
Special Reward, the $3.40 favourite, settled just behind the leaders for jockey Brenton Avdulla then hit the lead under a hold at the top of the straight. Avdulla released him at the 300m mark and the four-year-old kicked well clear.
Stablemate Delectation Girl ($18) finished strongly from back in the field to grab second, 1.4 lengths off the winner. The Paul Perry-trained Condor ($21) held on for third to make it a Newcastle-trained trifecta in the group 3 $160,000 race.
Hunter syndication company Australian Bloodstock, Lees and Avdulla combined to win the feature last year with Princess Posh.
Friday’s victory gives Special Reward, a winner of the group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) at his previous start, a position in the group 1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick on April 4.
Special Reward had 50 kilograms for the Doncaster before Friday’s win but another step up in distance and level might deter connections. Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell said the group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) in June could be another target.
“We’ll have a look at it and I suppose we’ll assess it as we get a bit closer,” Murrell said of a Doncaster start.
“He might be a Stradbroke horse. He’s proven now, with three from three on the wet, and at that sort of distance range, he’d be a good chance.”
He said the lightweight in the Doncaster provided “some temptation”.
“Today was probably the first time he hasn’t played up pre-race so hopefully that maturity comes and he can get to that better level.”
Of a Doncaster start, Lees said: “This race is a long way from there, but you’ve got to keep it on the radar.”
The black-type placing will add to the value of Delectation Girl, which will be sold as a broodmare in June.
“Fred has done an amazing job with her,” Murrell said of Lees. “That’s a bit more black type for her and if she gets to a mile, she can win.”
Lees also won with Iconic Star. Hugh Bowman rode a treble with Zebrowski, Sophomore and Piping Roller.
On Saturday, Lees and Australian Bloodstock have Raheen House and Mr Garcia in the Randwick City Stakes and Aliferous in the Aspiration Quality.
Newcastle jockey Aaron Bullock returns from almost two months out with weight issues to ride Albert’s No Pussy in the Provincial Championship qualifier at Hawkesbury on Saturday and Herzegovina in a country heat on Sunday at Tamworth