Kris Lees chasing successive wis in the Coffs Harbour Cup

Twelve months after claiming the Coffs Harbour Cup with Hosier , trainer Kris Lees finds himself in the opposition corner and hoping to topple the reigning titleholder with his talented backmarker Acquitted.

Formerly owned by Lloyd Williams, Hosier made a winning debut for the Lees stable in the corresponding race last year but was subsequently sold and picked up by fellow Newcastle trainer Mark Minervini.

Hosier showed a return to his old form last start with an excellent second to Barbie’s Fox in the Winter Challenge (1500m) and while he will have to cope with a four-kilo weight rise on last year, Lees has no doubt his former galloper will be a formidable foe.

“It was a good run the other day and he’s a high-quality horse, so I reckon he’ll run great,” Lees said.

Despite that respect, Lees is equally upbeat that Acquitted has the right profile for Friday’s feature, which grants the winner and second placegetter eligibility for the $3 million Big Dance (1600m) at Randwick on Melbourne Cup day.

The seven-year-old has been freshened-up since storming home from back in the field to beat all but stablemate Ucalledit in the Winter Stakes (1400m) on July 8 and is a two-time winner at the 1600m journey.

He comes into barrier 12 after two early scratchings and while the gate isn’t ideal, Lees doesn’t see it as a big negative.

“At Coffs, they often get out to the middle of the track so it’s not a huge impost,” he said.

“He’s a month between runs but he’s been up a long time, so I think the four weeks is perfect for him.”

The $150,000 Coffs Harbour Cup (1600m) has attracted a smart field with training partners Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou to start talented milers Cisco Bay and Steely, while consistent performers Attractable for Sara Ryan and the Joe Pride-trained King Of The Castle are also set to line-up.

The $50,000 Forbes Cup (1600m) on Sunday also carries Big Dance eligibility, that race headed by lightly raced Tulloch Lodge gelding and last-start Sydney winner Kangaroo Court.

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