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Time to shine for Lees mare

So often the bridesmaid in the feature race sprints, the six-year-old mare In Her Time managed to overcome a ruined pre-race plan to eclipse the best sprinters in the land in the $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning at Flemington on Saturday.

"She's been knocking on the door to win one of these major Group 1s for a long time," trainer Kris Lees noted.

"She's so honest. Things didn't go to plan there but it was a wonderful ride from Corey (Brown)."

In Her Time, who had been trained by Ben Smith until he was stood down by stewards pending an investigation at the start of the season, had won a Group 1 Galaxy last year but has also five times been placed at the elite level - the last of those in last spring's VRC Sprint Classic won by Santa Ana Lane.

In Her Time and Corey Brown hold out Osborne Bulls and Craig Williams, picture Quentinjlang.com

Lees and Brown had decided before the race that from barrier one, they would follow the two-year-old filly Jedastar, who drew barrier two, but that plan was soon in pieces after Jedastar missed the start.

"She was exposed the whole race but Corey summed it up early and took up the running on the inside and that was probably the winning move," Lees said.

In Her Time ($4.40) fought off the challengers, headed by $3.20 favourite Sunlight, and then had to withstand a powerful finishing burst from Osborne Bulls ($8) to score by a short head.

Lees' plan to take the big autumn sprint double - the Lightning and Newmarket Handicap - could hit a snag as a stablemate may provide the biggest danger in the race.

The three-year-old Graff ($8) returned to racing with an encouraging fourth placing and he is certain to be suited back to the handicap conditions.

"He raced a bit fiercely in the early stages so he'll come on really well," Lees said. "Going back to the handicap, he looks pretty well placed."

Lees' sprinting team got that little bit deeper over the past few weeks with the addition to his stable of the former Darren Weir-trained Group 1 sprinter Brave Smash, who is likely to be seen next week in the G1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.

Osborne Bulls is the new $5 favourite for the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 9 after his barnstorming closing effort for second.

"His performance was awesome," jockey Craig Williams said.

"He has never competed over 1000 metres at weight-for-age in a Group 1.

"On his day, trained up, he's the best sprinter in Australia."

Sunlight is equal-third favourite at $8 for the Newmarket, her quote unchanged after producing another spirited performance on the pace for third.

"She ran really well, she was brave," her rider Luke Currie said.

"She was quick early and a bit keen but got it fairly steady through the middle stages.

"I still felt she had enough late but I think she'll be better for that run and be great in the Newmarket."

Currie did consider lodging a protest against In Her Time and Osborne Bulls but thought better of it after viewing the stewards' head-on footage.

"In Her Time brought us right out and then Osborne Bulls rolled in a touch late. It might have cost us a quarter of a length but not enough to chuck in a protest," he said.

Tommy Berry lamented the sit-sprint tempo of the Lightning aboard Graff, the stablemate of the winner, but also believes the Star Witness colt will be suited in the Newmarket.

"They probably didn't go as quick as I thought they would early which left the race to turn into a bit of a sit sprint," Berry said.

"They half outsprinted a bit halfway up the straight but he was really strong late. He's ready for the Newmarket."

Two-year-old filly Jedastar finished a distant last with the effort of apprentice Chris Caserta wasting to ride at 44kg going unrewarded.

"As soon as she missed the kick that was the end of her race," Caserta said. "She didn't have a turn of foot as I thought she would."

In Her Time with Osborne Bulls on the far side, Sunlight behind and Graff inside, picture Quentinjlang.com

 

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