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Kris Lees sets sights on Murwillumbah Cup victory and The Big Dance qualification

3 minute read

Kris Lees won both The Big Dance eligible Ballina and Lismore Cups last year, and then the inaugural $2m finale at Royal Randwick with Scone Cup victor Rustic Steel.

RUSTIC STEEL after winning the BIG DANCE at Randwick in Australia.
RUSTIC STEEL after winning the BIG DANCE at Randwick in Australia. Picture: Steve Hart

Now he is hoping to add tomorrow's $70,000 Murwillumbah Cup (1550m), which also carries eligibility for the second renewal of The Big Dance (1600m) on November 7, boosted to $3m.

Lees has opted to bypass respective Doomben races on Saturday with both Kinloch and Ella Te Ama to start the pair at Murwillumbah, keen to carry on from his successes last year with Kedah in the Ballina Cup and Spanish Point in the Lismore Cup (held at Grafton).

Kinloch (1350m Class 6 Plate) and Ella Te Ama (1600m Class 3 Plate) both drew poorly at Doomben, influencing their trainer to target the Murwillumbah feature.

"Ella Te Amma has also drawn awkwardly at Murwillumbah, but both she and Kinloch will run there," Lees said this afternoon.

"Kinloch has been placed at all three Brisbane runs this campaign, and is the class horse, having also won the Provincial Championship Final at Randwick last year.

"The tight Murwillumbah track is perhaps a query, but he is going well enough to suggest he should have a really good chance.

"Ella Te Ama is going to need some luck from a wide draw, but she is by no means out of it."

Andrew Mallyon will ride Kinloch, and Ash Morgan partners Ella Te Ama, last year's Summer Provincial Series Final winner at Hawkesbury over 1600m.

Lees' five Doomben acceptors all fared poorly when barriers were drawn, and Ventura Ocean has already been taken out of the Benchmark 70 Handicap (1350m).

He will instead line up at Wyong's opening day of the Cup carnival on Sunday, in the Johnnie Roberts Memorial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m).

Apprentice Ben Osmond's 3kg claim will help offset his 63kg topweight.

Bubba's Bay has drawn the outside in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m), and is not a certain Doomben runner.

However, stable stalwart Snowzone (Mallyon) will contest the Open Handicap (1200m) in spite of having to start from near the outside.

"There are no alternatives for him, and he's going well, winning at the Sunshine Coast earlier in the month with 61.5kg," Lees said.

"Snowzone races well at Doomben; we're just going to need some luck."

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