Newcastle’s leading trainer Kris Lees saddled up six of his team at the Newcastle Jockey Clubs Thursday race meeting and he left the track with two winners and three seconds. Lees is on target to be the first non-metropolitan trainer to prepare 200 winners in a season. He has trained 168 winners in the 2018-19 season with more than three months remaining in the season.
Lees New Zealand bred filly Mystic Hill is destined for bigger things following her narrow win in the Hungerford Hill Benchmark 64 Handicap (1400m) on Thursday.
Raced by Queenslander Judy Wanless, Mystic Hill’s first preparation in late 2018 resulted in wins at Gosford and Taree, along with a close second at Muswellbrook. First up on Thursday after a couple of trials, Mystic Hill settled near the rear of the field and she was still there at the top of the straight.
Brenton Avdulla eased her to the middle of the track in the straight and she wore them down to win narrowly. “Her trials were only fair, however she is a stayer in the making and she grinded out the win.
The Queensland Oaks is a possibility, but she will have to prove she is worthy of a trip north. Mystic Hill is bred to stay and she has a bright future“, Lees said. While Mystic Hill was the $2.35 favourite, Lees other winner Warset was a $15 chance in the Prime 7 Benchmark 64 Handicap.
The four-year-old son of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking had four starts in New Zealand for a win and a third before joining the Lees stable earlier this year.
After an encouraging first up run at Scone a month ago, Warset was given a peach of a ride by comeback apprentice Samantha Clenton. He stormed home to win running away by 1¼ lengths.
Newcastle trainers Jeremy Smith and Paul Perry both tasted success at Thursday’s meeting.
Smith’s four-year-old mare Aunty Pugs ran up to her outstanding barrier trial form when she led throughout to win the Yarraman Park Provincial and Country Maiden (900m).
Aunty Pugs won a Beaumont trial by 4½ lengths on February 27 before winning a Newcastle trial by 3 lengths on April 5.
Perry’s talented three-year-old Airwing was the most impressive winner on the day when he ran his rivals ragged in the Top Cut Foods Class 2 Handicap (1200m). The son of Redoute’s Choice is well up to Metropolitan grade and his owners including Wilf Mula and John Muir will have a lot of fun with this bloke.