Kingsford-Smith Cup: Clearly Innocent form gives trainer Kris Lees confidence

RISING: Clearly Innocent has won all three starts on soft ground. Picture: bradleyphotos苏州美甲学校苏州美甲学校论坛


CLEARLY Innocent was travelling to Queensland on Wednesday night for the $700,000 Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300 metres) untested at group 1 level,at Eagle Farm and at weight for age.

But Newcastle trainer Kris Lees was confidentwinning form could give his five-year-old gelding the edge on Saturday in the race formerly known as the BTC Cup.

Clearly Innocent, with Hugh Bowman to ride, was at $5.50 with TAB Fixed Odds, behind only five-time group 1 winner Black Heart Bart ($3.50), after drawing barrier nine. Black Heart Bart drew four.

Lees targeted the raceafter Clearly Innocent defended his listed Luskin Star Stakes title in emphatic fashion at Scone. Victory in the Kingsford-Smith Cup secures aplace in the June 10, $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm, a racein which Clearly Innocent is the early favourite.

Black Heart Bart was seventh in the group 1 Goodwood last start, while Clearly Innocent is one of only two last-start winners in the Kingsford-Smith Cupfield.

Lees was taking that as a positive and believed the other last-start victor, Jungle Edge, was the horse to beat.

“He’s not well-placed at weight-for-age level against some of these more credentialled horses, but we’re going there in form,” Lees said of Clearly Innocent.

“There’s horse there that, on their day, are genuine group 1 horses.

“He’s come on well since Scone but he’ll need to because it’s a lot stronger race.

“The horse is in good order and he handles a soft ground, but the Eagle Farm track is the unknown.I just hope the horse runs well.”

The Eagle Farmsurface, a heavy 8 on Wednesday, has been widely criticised. It wasrated heavy on May 3 despite the track not havingrain for 10 days.

Lees was unsure what factorthe draw in nine would have, given the surface’s troubles.

“It’s all up in the air with that track,” he said. “But it’s probably a terrific barrier because you’ve got options.You probablydon’t want to be stuck on the fence or on the outside fence, so that will be enough for Hugh to work things out.”

Meanwhile, Lees accepted forSlow Pace in the McKell Cup at Randwick for Saturday but he was unsure if the nine-year-old will race.

“He probably needs a bit of cut in the ground, to be honest, and I probably won’t run him if it gets too firm,” he said.

“He seems to be going well, but he’s that kind of horse. You wouldn’t want to be having your last on him but he can certainly show up at any time.”

Lees confirmed Guard Of Honour would be gelded after his ninth last Saturday at Rosehill.