Kris Lees trio set for The Coast at Gosford

The Gosford stand-alone meeting has been a successful playground for leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees and he is hoping to continue in that vein with a trio of runners in the $500,000 The Coast.

The track has hosted a Saturday metropolitan meeting for the past two years and Lees has captured feature races both times, claiming the 2021 Takeover Target Stakes with Enchanted Heart and last year’s The Coast with Rustic Steel.

His chances of a hat-trick rest with his three runners in The Coast (1600m) – South Pacific Classic winner Razeta, backmarker Loch Eagle and former New Zealander Bellatrix Black – with the prospects of all three hinging on the race being run at a genuine clip.

“Each needs a few things to go their way and probably all are reliant on a bit of tempo, but I couldn’t split them to be fair,” Lees said.

Three-year-old Razeta was a Listed winner against her own age two starts ago over 1400m and will be extending to a mile for just the second time after finishing down the track in her only other attempt at the distance.

Lees felt she had excuses that day and didn’t hesitate to give her another opportunity to prove herself.

“It was early this prep, we sent her down for the Edward Manifold (Stakes in Melbourne) and things didn’t quite go right,” Lees said.

“That was her one go at the mile and it was inconclusive so I’m happy to give her another chance. She’s got no weight on her back and she gets a few little ticks.”

Loch Eagle has likewise been racing competitively, winning at Newcastle in March to earn a spot in the Provincial-Midway Championships Final in which he got back to last from a wide gate and did his best work late to finish second to Spangler.

While the tight-turning Gosford circuit is usually better suited to on-speed runners, Lees believes the pace of Saturday’s race is a more important factor.

“For him, it’s more pace related. He’s won at Canterbury off a good tempo so it all comes down to the set-up of the race,” Lees said.

Bellatrix Black, a Group 3 winner in New Zealand, rounds out his team and while she is yet to place in three local runs, Lees says she is a better mare than her form reads on paper.

“She’s had little excuses each time, but she is a high quality mare and I think she’ll have a nice twelve months for us,” he said.

“She goes into this a little bit on the fresh side and I think she’ll react well.”

Lees also nominated new recruit Protagonist for the Gosford Gold Cup (2100m) but didn’t accept, confirming the former William Haggas-trained galloper would instead be sent to the paddock in preparation for the spring.

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