By Tony McMahon
Leviathan race winning Newcastle trainer Kris Lees may have his first Rockhampton starters on Friday which would be a magnificent coup for the Rockhampton Jockey Club.
Lees - on the brink of training his 2000th career winner - has Top Prospect entered for the $85,000 Rockhampton Cup (1600m) and Tawfiq Boy in the $65,000 Rockhampton Newmarket (1200m).
The Lees pair are among a list of 147 horses nominated for Friday’s nine race TAB card with the Cup attracting 23 nominations and the Newmarket some 24.
Kris Lees, with stables in both Newcastle and the Gold Coast, has trained 208 winners so far this season and he heads the New South Wales premiership with 173.5 race winners.
At yesterday’s Tamworth race meeting, the Lees-trained Jaja Chaboogie provided him with his 1998th career winner.
To put his status into perspective, Lees-trained horses have won a colossal $10.72 million in prize money to date this season which would be further enhanced by feature winners in Rockhampton.
Just last Thursday, the Lees-trained and Australian Bloodstock owned, Sixties Groove, won the $200,000 Grafton Cup (2350m).
Among Lees’ major winners are the Group 1 victors Samantha Miss; Le Roman; Lucia Valentina; County Tyrone; Clearly Innocent and Vitesse Dane.
Earlier today, Lees stable spokesperson Mel Eggleston said the trainer was likely to make up his mind about a Rockhampton mission by Tuesday.
“I know they (Lees and connections) are looking at both Rocky races closely,” Eggleston said from his Gold Coast base.
“They assess everything very closely and thoroughly before committing.
"I can say there is a pretty good chance the horses could be coming up for Friday.”
Top Prospect is a five-time race winner of $248,000 in stakes and turned in a strong Rockhampton Cup pointer when a very close second last start at Doomben on June 20 over 1615 metres.
I am Invincible gelding, Tawfiq Boy, failed at his most recent start when last at the Gold Coast on May 29 behind Jared Wehlow’s likely Newmarket favourite Inquiry.
“He (Tawfiq Boy) has since won a Gold Coast trial here very well and I don’t think he could be going any better,” Eggleston said.
Rockhampton Jockey Club CEO Tony Fenlon said it was very pleasing to see that the Rockhampton feature meeting had attracted the attention of Lees.
“To my knowledge Kris has never entered horses in Rockhampton previously,” Fenlon said.
“It would be great to see his stable represented in our feature races on Friday and from a club perspective we are grateful of his interest and naturally we will be delighted if his horses start.”
Among the other visiting horses in the Rocky Cup are Bargannon (David Vandyke); Magstock (Kelly Schweida); Right Or Wrong (Lindsay Gough); Spectroscope (Natalie McCall) and Trommelschlagen (Matt Kropp).
As expected, the local in-form contingent of Absolut Artie; Balboa Rocks and Barachiel were entered while dual restricted winner Kings County is among three penned-in by Adrian Coome.
The Rockhampton Newmarket has attracted sizeable entries by southern trainers.
Epic Rant - a winner of three of his last four starts from the Natalie McCall stables on the Sunshine Coast - is a highly rated and interesting nomination.
Fellow Sunshine Coast trainer Darryl Hansen has Doctor Zous entered while Stuart Kendrick has talented mare Winter Passage among the list.
Callaghan Park trainers have assembled their best ammunition in horse power through the likes of Inquiry; Master Jamie; Mr Attitude; Raiden and Spring Creek among the Newmarket mix.
Not surprisingly, interest is intense in the inaugural running of the Magic Millions Capricorn 3YO Guineas (1500m).
Garnett Tayler has Dawson Delight; John Dann – Jamaka; Stuart Kendrick -Play The Field; Natalie – Redstone; Matt Kropp – Tears Of Love and Darry Hansen – Valadyium.
Weights for Friday’s meeting will be declared on Tuesday, July 14 with acceptances due on Wednesday morning.