Kris Lees will carry the flag for Newcastle at Australia’s richest race meeting at Royal Randwick on Saturday. It is The Championships Day 2 with four Group Ones, two Group Twos and a Group 3 event and a record $9.5 million in prizemoney will be distributed, reports Gary Harley at Racing NSW.

Lees, 44yo – enjoying another great season with 90 winners in three states – will have his biggest representation at a metropolitan race meeting in his 11 years of training.

The Novocastrian will saddle up 12 gallopers on Saturday which is a record for a Broadmeadow trainer at a metropolitan meeting. Lees’s representatives in the four Group Ones are the Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist (Sydney Cup), Lucia Valentina (Queen Elizabeth), Rustic Melody (Australian Oaks) and Hera (Queen of the Turf). Fine Bubbles and Onemorezeta will run in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes.

Lees qualified six of his team for Saturday’s Provincial Championship Final – Magic of Dreams, Selectify, Powerline, Jimmy Says Yes, Parraay and Electric Power. Lees was calm and in his own words 'hoping more, than confident' of success on the big stage when he discussed his charges prospects with the Newcastle Herald.



“To have so many horses and owners involved in Australia’s richest raceday is very satisfying. All horses are fit and healthy and rearing to go, but they are racing the best and I am hoping," Kris Lees [pictured left] said.

"Protectionist’s run two weeks back was his best since entering my stable. I have said all along that he is a genuine two miler and he gets the right trip on Saturday. He has a good horse’s weight and the two favourites - Hartnell and Who Shot The Barman are very well weighted. Protectionist needs a solid tempo but if they hack along, Hartnell will outsprint them.

“Lucia Valentina finally gets a track with give in it. The tracks have been too firm for her in her past two starts. The Queen Elizabeth is the best race in Australia this season so far, however, she is capable of winning.

“Rustic Melody will get the distance in the Oaks but is she classy enough? This is by no means a great Oaks field and my filly is a real trier. The filly is raced by a group of ex-South Newcastle rugby league team mates of mine and I would love to see her win for them.

“Hera will be big odds in the Queen of the Turf and she needs a real heavy track. She was only narrowly beaten in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic recently," Lees said.

The NJC’s Tibbie Handicap winner Fine Bubbles has come back well and the wet track is no problem, however, the ‘Sapphire’ is a classy race and she will be big odds as will her stablemate Onemorezeta, a battling third in the recent Gosford Guineas.

The Provincial Championship Final is for horses trained away from the metropolitan region. Lees wasted no time in securing some of the world’s best riders for his six finalists. Joao Moreira (Parraay), Ryan Moore (Powerline), Damian Oliver (Electric Power), Hugh Bowman (Selectify), Tommy Berry (Magic of Dreams) and Brenton Avdulla (Jimmy Says Yes).

Magic of Dreams is the best fancied of Lees finalists: “Magic of Dreams is a three-year-old filly and it may be a bit quick for her, however, she keeps improving and I believe she will be competitive, racing in the first 4 or 5. Selectify is a risk at 1400 metres.

“I believe Parraay will run a bold race at double figure odds. Her Kembla run was good. Electric Power surprised last start and the heavier the track the better. Powerline’s form has been mixed this preparation and Jimmy Says Yes may struggle at 1400," Lees said.