Newcastle duo combine in surprise G1 raid in the Tancred Stakes

A last-minute decision to pay up for Kalapour in the Tancred Stakes has yielded the ultimate reward for Kris Lees with the Newcastle trainer landing his first Group One win in combination with stable apprentice Dylan Gibbons.

Sent out a $31 outsider with betting apps, Kalapour stalked the speed and quickly accounted for the leaders in the straight before fending off the late challenge of More Felons ($6) to get the verdict by a long head.

Lees revealed afterwards he had been going to run the horse in a lesser race on the program before deciding to roll the dice in the $1.5 million Tancred Stakes (2400m).

“At 8.30am on Wednesday I was nearly going to run him in the Neville Sellwood Stakes,” Lees said.

“I ‘ummed and ahhhed’ which way to go and it looked like it was falling away a little bit this race, so we thought we’d give him his chance.

“I came here hoping he’d earn a nice cheque for connections, probably not that confident. But I’m really happy.”

Making the victory sweeter was the involvement of Gibbons, whose only previous Group 1 win was for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace aboard Explosive Jack in last year’s Sydney Cup.

While the Tancred was major no. 17 for Lees, he was thrilled to share one with his star apprentice.

“He’s just a pleasure to have around. I know he’s already won a Group One, but he’s got many more (to come),” Lees said of Gibbons.

“Finally we got one together, that’s great.”

For 22-year-old Gibbons, the victory was a chance to repay Lees for his unwavering support.

“If you asked me a long-time goal, it would have been to do something like this for Kris,” Gibbons said.

“I go back through my whole career and every step and stage I made with his support and what he helped Dad (jockey Andrew Gibbons) plan for me.

“I know for a fact I’d be lost without it, so to give him one on the biggest stage, it means a hell of a lot.”

The disappointment of the race was UK raider Post Impressionist who started a $2.50 betting favourite but failed to back up his Manion Cup performance from last week and finished last.

Isabella Paul, representing trainer William Haggas, said the horse didn’t handle the quick turnaround.

“He just ran a bit flat,” Paul said.

“Its not something we usually do, especially not off a long break.

“He has pulled up fine and he looks absolutely A-1 so that’s the main thing. It’s disappointing, but it was always going to be a risk.”

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