Epsom plans on hold for Le Romain

Kris Lees isn’t going to Randwick on Saturday expecting to stop Winx’s freakish winning spree. Nonetheless, the performance of his triple Group 1 winner Le Romain will have a major bearing on his spring program.

Le Romain (James McDonald) steps up to 1600m for the first time in 12 months when he meets Winx in the $500,000 Colgate Optic White Stakes.

“Obviously, I’m not thinking we can beat Winx but I’ll be pretty disappointed if Le Romain can’t run a place behind her,” Lees said.

“He is in really good order, and has a lovely inside draw to be given a good run in the race.

“How he performs will determine whether we go on to the Epsom Handicap over the same course in a fortnight.”

Kris Lees, picture

Le Romain, given 58kg in the $1 million Epsom, has recorded two of his three victories at racing’s elite level at 1600m. The first was in the 2016 Randwick Guineas and later that year in the Cantala Stakes at Flemington.

The six-year-old carried 61kg, with McDonald up, to a first-up victory in the G3 Show County Quality (1200m) at Randwick on August 18, then had no luck, with Winx’s jockey Hugh Bowman aboard, when forced to race wide with 59kg from an awkward draw when seventh in the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on September 1.

“He has taken no harm at all from that run, and is in really good order,” Lees said.

Le Romain hasn’t contested a 1600m race since finishing unplaced in Humidor’s Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington last September.

His spring campaign was terminated and, after being brought home, underwent colic surgery.

Lees has his new acquisition El Dorado Dreaming (Corey Brown) and Miss Fabulass (Kerrin McEvoy) in Saturday’s $200,000 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m). El Dorado Dreaming was transferred to him this week from suspended trainer Ben Smith.

“She has come to us in terrific order, but having just joined our stable it’s hard for me to assess how she will race first-up and whether she might need the run,” Lees said.

“Clearly she is a high quality filly.

“I have taken a cross over nose band off Miss Fabulass Horseform and we’ll ride her more conservatively.

“That will give her the chance to finish off for the step up from 1200m to 1400m. She has trained on really well.”

Lees is also looking forward to his talented three-year-old filly Smart Melody putting her unbeaten record on the line at her Melbourne debut at Flemington on Saturday.

Sydney’s premier jockey Brenton Avdulla will be reunited with Smart Melody when she tackles her own sex in the Listed Cap D’Antibes Stakes over the straight 1100m course.

“There looks to be plenty of speed in the race, and that will hopefully give Brenton the chance to ride her off the pace,” Lees said.

Smart Melody drew gate 15 in a field of 16, but Lees considers that with the straight races at Flemington often being wind dependent it will suit her coming down the outside rail.

The Smart Missile filly is scheduled to go on to the Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) on September 30 and then the G1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) on October 13.

Stablemate Reginae, another three-year-old filly who has impressed in recent wins at Kembla Grange and Randwick, accompanied Smart Melody to Melbourne.

She runs in the Jim Moloney Stakes (1400m) against her own age and sex at Caulfield on Saturday week, with a Thousand Guineas start also in the offing.