Max Lees Classic for two-year-olds announced as new race on Newcastle calendar

The Newcastle Jockey Club hopes to grow the Max Lees Classic into an established race for two-year-olds after confirming the event will be held for the first time on Sunday, December 3.
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HOME COLOURS: The Kris Lees-trained Admiral Jello, second from right, running third in the Newcastle Cup last month. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The NJC has been working with Racing NSW about forming an annualrace to honour the late Broadmeadow trainer, who had 20 group 1 wins and wasmost famous for his work with 1977 two-year-old triple crownchampion Luskin Star.

NJCchief executive Matt Benson said the Max Lees Classic for two-year-olds would be held over 900 metres and carry prizemoney of $50,000. The Robert Thompson Cup will also be part of the December 3 meeting.

“I think the aim is to develop it into a bigger race in the future,” Benson said of the Max Lees Classic.

“The timing is perfect at the beginning of December.It rolls into the Inglis race in Sydney and it’s before the Magic Millions at Wyong, so those horses are hunting for prizemoney at that time of the year [to qualify].

“It’s a perfect opportunity, over a wonderful start for two-year-olds at 900 metres, with a lovely camber and 430-metre run home.

“You couldn’t hope for a better firstor second-up run for a two-year-old, so hopefully trainers will factor that into their plans.”

As for the Newcastle course proper, Benson hoped to have racing back with the rail in the true position for the November 4 meeting.

On October 7, racing was held on the course proper for the first time since the successful September 15-16 spring carnival meetings,however the rail was out six metres to protect the dethatched and recovering inside section.

The rail will be out to nine metres for this Saturday’s eight-race meeting.

“The track has obviously come back from the grooming that we gave it in the winter, and that’s been a good thing,” Benson said.

“We’re still wanting to get the track management right but I think we’re on the right path, and you never stop learning.

“We are aiming to be on the true for November 4, VRC Derby Day, to maximise field sizes and betting confidence on that day.

“We’ve got some requests into Racing NSW about various programming issues so hopefully we’ll find out about those soon.”

On Wednesday, the Kris Lees-trained Admiral Jello was $2.90 second favourite for the six-horse listed City Tattersalls Club Cup (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday with TAB Fixed Odds.Glyn Schofield has been allowed to ride Admiral Jello at 54kg, 0.5kg over the declared weight.

The Lees-trained Zestful was $19 for the group 3 Nivison (1200m) at Randwick and Danish Twist was the $4.20 favourite for the group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

Newcastle trainer Paul Perry’s Conchita opened at $10 for the listed Alinghi Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield.

Meanwhile, the Newcastle racing fraternity was in mourning on Wednesday after news ofthe passing of popular identityFay Wallace, the wife of late Broadmeadow trainer Ray Wallace.

AAP reports:Chris Waller’s decision to open a Queensland satellite stable has returned a reverse benefit for the champion trainer.

Waller sent Unforgotten to his Gold Coast base in July for some remedial work with stable manager Paul Shailer and theassistance was evident at Canterbury on Wednesday when she won her maiden at the third attempt.

“It’s been a good team effort. She’s shown us promise and just showed she was a bit immature so we sent up to spell in Queensland,” Waller said.”She’s done all her work with Paul Shailer at the Gold Coast and they didn’t want to let her go.

“Fortunately we got her down here, she’s a very talented horse.”

Unforgotten, which was second to subsequent group 1winner Ace High at her previous start at Kembla Grange, swooped down the outside to win the Schweppes Handicap (1250m).

Unforgotten was the first leg of a Waller treble including I Am Serious and Best Guess.

Waller said his only regret with Unforgotten was she had missed suitable black-type races over spring.

“She probably could have been up and going a little earlier but maybe she gets to Melbourne for Cup week,” he said.

** David Hayes says the cheapest investment in racing is to engage an in-form jockey.

Lindsay Park’s senior trainer followed his own advice at Caulfield on Wednesday, combining with Kerrin McEvoy for a double, including the day’s feature, the group 3 Blue Sapphire Stakes with Formality.

McEvoy touched out the Lindsay Park-trained Vega Magic on Redzel in The Everest last Saturday and Hayes said when the jockey leads from the front he’s hard to get past.

Formality and stablemates Tulip and Catchy were three of Melbourne’s best-performed fillies as two-year-olds and Hayes said they had all trained on six months later.

Originally the three were on a path towards Guineas races, the Caulfield and Thousand versions run last Saturday, but only Catchy made it to the males race when finishing third to Mighty Boss and Kementari.

After running a fading 11th in the Golden Rose at Rosehill last month, Hayes decided to freshen her up the Melbourne carnival.

“She drew wide and we elected to go forward and unfortunately so did the rest of the field in Sydney,” Hayes said.

“To bounce back off that hard run is superb.

“Full testament to Lindsay Park. She’s been able to go out into the paddock, go on the water walker and has freshened up beautifully.”

Hayes said he was disappointed with his riding instructions to McEvoy in the Golden Rose and didn’t tie him down with too many on Formality.

“Today I told Kerrin to let her go under her own steam,” Hayes said.

“If they want to go hard follow them, if they won’t to go slow, lead.

“He’s a very hard man to get past as we found out on Saturday.”

Formality will now head to the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on November 4 where she will be joined by Tulip and Catchy.

Sent off a $5 chance, Formality dug deep to score by a long neck from Jukebox ($4.20) with Lone Eagle ($31) 1-1/4 lengths away third.

Craig Williams, rider of the runner-up, said Jukebox ruined his chances by over-racing early in the race.

“She (Formality) was a lot smoother and relaxed through the race whereas mine really wanted to get on with the race and that could quite easily have been the margin he was beaten,” Williams said.