Kris Lees likely to rely on Wandabaa in Newcastle Newmarket

Kris Lees will wait for as long as possible to decide whether Special Reward and Wandabaa fly the flag for the locals in the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket.

The leading Novacastrian trainer has won the 1400m feature for the past three years and he is keen to again be represented on Friday.

However, Lees is leaning towards having just one runner, pending track and weather conditions in Newcastle and Sydney, and Wandabaa is the most likely of his pair to line up.

Both horses have also been paid up for separate races at Randwick a day later, Special Reward the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) and Wandabaa the Group 3 Wenona Girl Quality (1200m) in which Lees also has Never Talk.

“I’m going to wait until the (Friday) morning to confirm a decision,” Lees said.

“I want to look at other scratchings and check and make sure neither meeting is in jeopardy, that’s another thing.”

Wandabaa relishes rain-affected ground and while she hasn’t won for more than 18 months, she has placed in six black-type races during that period.

She also has an outstanding record at Newcastle where she is yet to miss a place in three starts, including her runner-up effort behind Lost And Running in The Hunter.

Special Reward won the Newmarket two years ago but with star galloper Zaaki scratched from the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) to run in Melbourne, Lees is warming to his charge’s chances at Randwick, provided he handles the testing track.

“It doesn’t look the strongest Group One race I’ve got to say,” Lees said.

“If we were to run there, and if he handles heavy which I don’t know but which we’ve got to find out at some stage, he looks a nice chance.”

Lees has dominated the Newcastle Newmarket in recent years, claiming the feature in 2019 with Princess Posh and adding to his tally with Special Reward (2020) and Gem Song 12 months ago.

A field of 13 has accepted for this year’s renewal, including Aramayo who will be bidding to give premier trainer Chris Waller his first win.

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