Ombudsman books spring ticket for cups, Lees has hot streak
TRAINER Chris Waller has rated young stayer Ombudsman a potential Newcastle Gold Cup contender after a strong effort to win at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
"We took Ombudsman to Brisbane for the Queensland Derby but he was an emergency and didn't get a start,'' Waller said.
"But he has proven he can stay today and I think he will be nice NSW cups horse in the spring.
"I think races like the Newcastle (Gold) Cup are the sort of races that we will aim him towards.''
Ombudsman took on older more seasoned stayers on Saturday in the Winter Racing Handicap (2400m) but proved too good for his rivals.
Corey Brown, who won on Helaku in the opener, completed a double when he drove Ombudsman ($4.40) past the consistent Only Tiger ($7) to win by nearly two lengths, with Diamond Star Halo ($19) one and a half lengths away third.
Nahuel was backed into $3.80 favouritism but after settling back in the field, he ran on only fairly in the straight to finish fifth.
Brown, who is due to leave for a European holiday later this week, is a master tactician in staying races and came away with a glowing endorsement of Ombudsman's ability.
"I think that races like the Newcastle Cup are perfect for this horse,'' Brown said.
"He is not an easy horse to ride because he doesn't really have a gear - he is just a one-paced, tough stayer. He will get further, too.''
Ombudsman is a lightly raced son of striking grey stallion Reliable Man, the former French galloper Waller trained to win the 2013 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Waller isn't in any rush to send Ombudsman for a mid-year break, either.
"He has taken a while to come to hand but he's improving with racing,'' Waller said.
"There is a suitable race in two weeks' time and as you can see he is starting to put it together now.''
Only Tiger is a remarkably genuine stayer. He was beaten on his merits on Saturday but his game effort to finish second was his ninth minor placings, to go with his three wins from 15 starts. He has never finished further back than fourth.
Plymouth Road had beaten Only Tiger last start but after being hampered three times during the race, he was eased out of it from the turn and finished at the rear of the field, 31 lengths from the winner.
LEES SPREADS THE SUCCESS
IN LESS than an hour, trainer Kris Lees prepared three winners at three different venues on Saturday.
The champion trainer's winning roll started at 11.54am on his home track of Newcastle when Silver Melody scored, then 23 minutes later, Princess Posh won at Doomben.
Lees was at Royal Randwick and for good reason because at 12.45pm, the trainer was leading in Envy Of All after her tough win in the Randwick Mayor's Cup (1100m).
Lees's quick-fire treble continued the trainer's outstanding 2017-18 season, taking his tally of winners to 176.5 - easily his best result with still more than three weeks until season's end.
Envy Of All, who had scored at Ipswich at her previous start, is racing in career-best form and is likely to continue her winter campaign, according to Lees.
"She enjoys wet tracks and when you have a filly in form, you want to keep them going,'' Lees said.
Envy Of All ($3.70 equal favourite) gave Blake Shinn an early double when she wore down the leaders to win by a head from a late-surging Revenire ($5.50) with Bella Success ($7.50) a long head away third, just in front of equal favourite Bombarding.
Shinn, who scored earlier on Highway Sixtysix, said Envy Of All showed a fierce will-to-win yesterday.
"We got a nice run, we were in the 'slipstream' but then the leaders kicked and she took a while to find top gear,'' Shinn said.
"But she really wanted to win and the in last 150m she was very strong late.''