Kris Lees is a master at placing his horses to advantage and the Newcastle trainer will split his team between two states this weekend as he eyes off longer-term targets.
Former European Korcho will spearhead the stable’s runners at Randwick on Boxing Day when he resumes in the Drinkwise Mile (1600m).
Lees will also have a strong presence in Brisbane where stablemates Special Reward and Tactical Advantage go head-to-head in the Listed Falvelon Quality (1200m).
The Eagle Farm feature has been specifically targeted by the stable as the winner of the race is granted a wildcard into the $1 million Magic Millions Snippets at the Gold Coast next month.
Lees says both horses head to Queensland in great shape and he cannot split them.
“They’re two contrasting horses. One is on-speed, one is out the back but they both look suited,” Lees said.
Special Reward has been kept fresh since he returned to form with a second to Sweet Deal in the $1 million The Hunter, while backmarker Tactical Advantage has taken time to warm into his campaign.
However, the seven-year-old has put the writing on the wall at his past two starts, closing for fourth in The Hunter and again making headway when third to Athiri in the Razor Sharp Handicap.
“He has taken a while to come to hand this preparation but his last two runs would suggest he is near his best,” Lees said.
Korcho will return for his second Australian preparation at Randwick in a race Lees hopes can be a stepping stone to bigger things.
The import posted consecutive city wins in the winter and while Lees expects him to improve off Saturday’s run, he harbours hopes Korcho can develop into a carnival contender.
“He’s a really nice horse, he just took a little bit to work out but with a couple of runs under his belt he came to the fore when he got to his preferred trip,” Lees said
“This time around we will get him there a little bit quicker if we can.
“He may get to an Australia Day Cup this prep and then have a freshen for the autumn and the winter.”
Stablemate High Opinion resumes in the same race while Juventus will chase an overdue win in the Precise Air Handicap (1400m).
Since landing a Kensington track win in April, Juventus has finished in the minor placings at four of his subsequent five starts but will have to lump top weight of 59.5kg.
“He pays for his consistency but he’s certainly not far off a win,” Lees said.