Pensioner pair head Stayer's Cup fieldWednesday 26 June 2019
They might be the thoroughbred equivalents of old age pensioners but both Doukhan and Destiny's Kiss have the credentials to give their younger rivals a lesson in stamina when they clash in the Stayer's Cup at Rosehill.
The pair of 10-year-olds have been racing in great heart with Destiny's Kiss a last-start winner of the Winter Cup while the Kris Lees-trained Doukhan finished an excellent fifth in the Group One Sydney Cup in April.
"If Doukhan can repeat that it would put him right in the race," Lees said.
Doukhan was also nominated for the Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday but with Big Duke and Saunter Boy to fly the stable's flag in the Queensland feature, Lees decided Sydney was a more suitable option.
The veteran narrowly missed out in a tight finish to the Stayers Cup (3200m) 12 months ago and Lees, who is enjoying his most successful season with more than 200 winners in NSW alone, expects the gelding to strip markedly fitter following his unplaced effort at Randwick earlier this month.
"He was OK but he probably just needed that run," Lees said.
"He always races better deeper into his prep and this race looks like it programs nicely for him."
The top Newcastle trainer will also have a hand in the feature event at Rosehill, confirming Star Reflection will take her place in the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m).
The tough mare kicked off her campaign in November last year and has raced at least once a month since, highlighted by a Group Three placing on a heavy track at Rosehill in April.
With the Rosehill track again set to be rain-affected on Saturday, Lees says Star Reflection, a $26 chance when TAB markets opened, is capable of surprising.
"That's probably her best chance at this level," Lees said.
"She might look a touch out-graded but she likes wet ground.
"Her last few runs have been OK. She's just crying out for this type of track."
Doukhan and Star Reflection are both raced by syndicators Australian Bloodstock and will spearhead a handy Rosehill team for Lees.
One horse unlikely to be there is Asharani with Lees leaning towards giving her another shot at black-type in the Group Three Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) at Caloundra.