He won’t break his Newcastle Cup drought but a second Cameron Handicap is in the sights of Group One-winning local trainer Kris Lees.
Lees will saddle up topweight Sense Of Occasion and Prized Icon in the Group Three race in which he landed a first win nine years ago with Absolutelyfabulous.
He has had to settle for second for the past two years but makes a strong case for Prized Icon to go one better in a race that holds special significance for the born and bred Novocastrian.
“It’s a time honoured Newcastle race. You want to win every feature if you can,” Lees said.
“It’s a stronger Cameron than I’ve seen for quite a while. There’s a lot of depth across the board but Prized Icon’s two runs back would suggest he’s in good order and he’ll be most competitive.
“He’s taken a bit of work but now he’s had a couple of runs under his belt and a soft draw it gives him his chance.”
Sense Of Occasion hasn’t raced since the Melbourne spring carnival last year after a tendon issue ruled him out of the autumn and Lees expects him to benefit from the run.
A traditional springboard into the Group One Epsom Handicap, Friday’s Cameron is an intriguing mix of proven talent, headed by favourite Tom Melbourne, and progressive horses such as the in-form Kaonic and Godolphin import Best Of Days.
Lees doesn’t have a runner in the Group Three Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) for which the Chris Waller-trained Carzoff is pre-post favourite.
The Wyong Cup winner’s rivals include evergreen veteran Destiny’s Kiss who trainer Joe Pride expects to appreciate a distance rise.
“He’s been looking for this and a bit of weight relief,” Pride said.
“It looks like a nice race for him and hopefully it sets up well for him if they go quick in front.”
The Group Three Spring Stakes (1600m) for three-year-olds and the Tibbie Stakes (1400m) for fillies and mares round out the black-type racing on Friday’s program.