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Lees eyes late Everest run

HOPE: Le Romain, second from right, beats Chautauqua in the Canterbury Stakes. Picture: bradleyphotos出售老域名.au
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Premier Newcastle trainer Kris Lees is not giving up hope of again gaining a starter in the Everest (1200 metres) and believes wet-track performer Le Romain “would hold his own” in the $13 million race.

The Gerald Ryan-trained Menari, which hadMax Whitby’s slot in the October 13 feature at Randwick, withdrew on Wednesday because of injury,meaning there were three positions open for the 12-horse race.Ryan said Menari may be retired after sustaining a near foreleg injury on Monday.

Kementari, which runs in Saturday’s Missile Stakes at Randwick, and Adelaide Lightning Stakes winnerNature Strip are leading contenders for the slots and are already single-figure odds for The Everest.

Lees had Clearly Innocent in last year’s inaugural Everest, the world’s richest race on turf, where he finished eighth.This year, three-time group 1 winner Le Romain looks Lees’ most likely to make the field, and was $51 with TAB Fixed Odds.

The six-year-old geldingbounced back from life-saving colic surgery to place three times at group 1 level last autumn, including a narrow second to Everest favourite Trapeze Artist in the All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick. He was close againin the Doomben 10,000 (1200m) and Kingsford-Smith Cup (1350m).

Tactical Advantage, also $51, is another Lees horse in the market. He blitzed rivals on debut for Lees over 1100m at Randwick on July 21.

“I think they’ll have to show up race day before either of those are considered,” Lees said of his Everest hopes.“Le Romain would hold his own. He’s a group 1 performer, but I suppose out of sight, out of mind at the moment.

“The other horse probably needs to keep doing it a couple of times, but there’s still a long way to go.There’s now three slots and there could be more attrition.”

Lees said there had been only “minor talks”about Le Romain gaining a slot. Two of Le Romain’s group 1 wins have come over 1600m (Cantala Stakes and Randwick Guineas) but he held out sprint champion Chautauquaon a bog at Randwick in the 2017 Canterbury Stakes.

“He’d need the wet track at 1200,so he’s probably one if they kept it until late, someone might pounce on him,” Lees said.

“He beat Chautauqua at 1300 so that’s not bad form.”

Le Romain was second in a trial at Newcastle last Friday. Lees said he wouldtrial again at Gosford on Monday and resume in the group 3Show County Quality (1200m) at Randwick on August 18.Tactical Advantage will run a week earlier at Rosehill.

As for $101 Everest chance Clearly Innocent, which has recovered from bone soreness,Lees said: “He won’t be ready. He’s just come back into work.There’s a couple of races in Melbourne we’re aiming atand he may not even race in Sydney.”

“We’ll probably see him down the straight in the spring.”

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