NJC aim to honour Lees with feature

PROPOSAL: Rachel King carries the stable colours of Max and Kris Lees to victory aboard Sound Proposition at Randwick on June 24. King will ride Sound Proposition again on Saturday when he starts as topweight in ATC Heritage Volunteers Handicap (1800m). Picture: bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Newcastle Jockey Club hope to honour latechampion trainer Max Lees with a feature raceheld in his name in December each year.

TheHeraldunderstands the NJC is in talks with Racing NSW about prizemoney for the addition of The Max Lees, which it hopes to make the highlight ofthe meeting already featuringthe Robert Thompson Cup.

Lees, who died in 2003, had 20 group 1 winners and was twice second in the NSW metropolitan trainers’ premiership from his Newcastle base.

He and Paul Perry were the first trainers inducted into the Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame this year.

Lees’ son, Kris Lees, meanwhile, will beout to build on his already best-ever season as a trainer at Randwick on Saturday.

With 154winners Australia-wide and 151in NSW after Bold Chance saluted at Taree on Friday, Lees will take second in the statepremiership –his highest finish –and is sitting fifth in the national standings.

At Randwick, Lees has chances with Upscale (race three), Time Out Of Mind (five), Sound Proposition (six), Felines (seven), Olympic Academy andAdmiral Jello (nine).

Meanwhile, fellow Newcastle trainer Phil Atkins hopes promising three-year-old gelding Star Crossed can rise to the occasion again, this time against resuming 2016 Red Roses runner-up Super Too.

Max and Kris Lees with County Tyrone in 2002.

Star Crossed won at Canterbury over 1100 metres on July 12 and makes the jump to Saturday company in race four (1000m). Atkins, who has seven horses in work, was happy with Star Crossed butwary of the Marc Conners-trained favourite, Super Too.

“He’s done really well since Canterbury and, coming back to a 1000 metres, he’s had a couple of runs now and I haven’t had to do much with him,” Atkins said.“The horse is very well.I’m sure he’ll run well but the filly of Marc Conners’, she might be a real good filly. She’s had a couple of runs in stakes company and run well, and if she’s improved off her break, she’ll be very hard to beat.

“There’s a few other chances in the race and it will probably be one of those where it’s three lengths between first and last.It’s a step up tomorrow and a test again, so we just hope he’s up to it.”

** Newcastle Jockey Clubwill farewell racecourse operations manager Peter Birch at the end of the month.

Birch is retiring after almost five years in the job at Newcastle to returnhome to Queensland.

He came to Newcastle with the task of managing the Racing NSW-funded$11.2 million renovation of the course proper, which opened in March.

NJC chairman Geoff Barnett paid tribute to Birch.

“We really appreciate the work he has put in, in particularly the way he managed the installation of the new track,” Barnett said.

“He managed the training and racing, the re-routing of the horses,during that time, and it was very clever the way he did that.We really respect what he has done for us and we very much wish him well for the future.”

Barnett said Birch’s assistant, Marshall Howarth, and Racing NSW’s David Hodgson, who has been working part-time at Newcastle to learnabout the new surface, will oversee track operations for the immediate future.

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