Kris Lees equalled his best ever performance on his home track when he saddled up four winners at Newcastle on Saturday. The popular was certainly the punters pal early in the day when his two promising three-year old’s Rebel Cry ($1.90 and Brabinger ($1.70) won races one and three respectively. Lees had two starters in race seven and the outsider of the pair, Banner Season ($8) bolted in by 5.8 lengths while stablemate So You Merge ($4.50) was luckless in finishing fifth.
The well backed Chalmers ($5.50) humped the big weight of 61 ½ kilograms to overcome a wide run to win the final event by a nose and round off a great day for the local boy. Lees made a rare appearance at a Newcastle Saturday race meeting and he was a happy man following the meeting. “I have trained four winners in a day at Newcastle but I can’t remember when. It was a big thrill to do it on my home track. Rebel Cry is very smart and she has a good turn of foot. The filly settled better today and attacked the line. Rebel Cry is ready to step up to metropolitan company now. Brabinger is unbeaten in two starts and he will head to Sydney next. He is a brother to Cox Plate Winner Shamus Award and he will be a miler later on. The blinkers turned Banner Season on today and he as very impressive. He is nominated for the Queensland Derby and he will either head there or Randwick on the same day. Chalmers put the writing on the wall first up but the adverse barrier was a worry. I was going to scratch him and take him to Muswellbrook on Monday. He sat three wide and still won.” Lees said.
The quartet of winners has taken Lees 2017-2018 tally of winners to 140 ½. He appears certain to better his best ever season of 161 ½ in the 2016-2017 season.
The Lees Racing stable, stable two jockeys Aaron Bullock and Andrew Gibbons share in the spoils. Bullock landed a treble aboard Rebel Cry, Brabinger and Banner Season. Gibbons rode Chalmers. Bullock enjoying by far his best season has ridden 88 winners with more than two months of the season remaining.
The first six races on Saturday were won by favourites as bookmakers took a pounding.
Million dollar two-year-old King showed his liking for the Newcastle 900 metre course when he won the two-year-old Handicap. King has blistering speed and Mitchell Bell took the $1.80 favourite to the front from the outset and he defied the challengers. The colt broke the class record of 51.94 when he sped over the course in 51.9. Rebel Cry also posted a Class record of 51.23 in winning the 900 metre Class 2 earlier in the day.
Australian Hall of Famer Robert Thompson and John Hawkes maintained their good strike rate when the pair combined to win the 900 metre Maiden with $1.90 favourite Wild Horizon. John Hawkes trains these days in partnership with his sons Michael and Wayne. The family has trained 88 winners this season. While Thompsons’ career tally of winners stands at 4342.