HOME STRAIGHT: Princess Posh (sixth from the rail), ridden by Jeff Penza, starts to sprint for the finish line in the Provincial Championships Qualifier at Broadmeadow Racecourse on Saturday. Picture: Max Mason-HubersKRIS Lees’s domination of the 2018 ProvoncialChampionship Qualifiers continued at Newcastle Racecourse on Saturday when his underrated four-year-old mare Princess Posh won the fifth and final qualifier.
Lees-trained mares Just Dreaming (Wyong) and Serene Miss(Gosford) won earlier qualifiers, while Bastia (Hawekesbury) and Tawfiq Boy (Kembla) had been placed in qualifiers to progress to the $500,000 final at Randwick on April 14.
On Saturday, Lees saddled up seven runners in the $150,000 qualifier, and by the trainer’s own admission Princess Posh ($12) was only a rough chance.
Princess Posh foiled a huge plunge on another Newcastle galloper, Bon Amis, which finished the unluckiest of seconds after being backed from $6.50 into $3.80 favourite.
Bon Amis jumped awkwardly and he was at the tail of the field after 50 metres.
His performance to be beaten half a length was incredible and the only consolation for his owners and trainer Jason Deamer is that he has qualified for the final.
On the other hand, Princess Posh overcame a horrorwide draw and a tough run to land the $180,000 first prize.
Raced by the high-flying Hunter-based n Bloodstock Syndicate, the daughter of Irish sire Canford Cliffs had not raced since a close second at Randwick on November 7,
The mare had the benefit of two recent barrier trials, however, Lees felt she may have been one run short.
“The mare is talented but she hadn’t raced for six months and when she drew near the outside I thought she was a rough chance only,” Lees said.
“I was proud of Princess Posh because she was never on the track and after dashing clear in the straight held on well.
“The mare will improve out of sight in the final and cannot be underestimated.
“Kool Vinnie, Waiema Bay and Hallelujah Boy also ran well.
“I have six horses in the big final in a fortnight.
“At this stage, Just Dreaming and Serene Miss look the best of the six but don’t underestimate Princess Posh.”
Former Kiwi jockey Amelia Denby had her first two mounts ever on the Newcastle track and she had a day to remember.
The Gosford-based hoop produced a peach of a ride to pilot $9.50 chance Sojournist to a narrow victory in the 1200-metre Class 2 Handicap.
It was race two and five races later Denby, aboard $101 outsider Ticket To Riches, was beaten by a nose in the Class 1 Handicap. Sojournist is trained by veteran 78-year-old Gosford mentor Fred Cowell, who has been in ill health for the past year and is currently in hospital.
Cowell’s wife Irene saddled up Sojounist, which has won two of her past three starts with Denby aboard.
“This is a great thrill,” an elated Denby said after returning to scale.
“It was my first ride at Newcastle and I get on so well with this mare. The Cowells have given me opportunities and I am very appreciative.”