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Image: R&SSteve Hart
An excellent second-up record is fuelling hopes Gem Song can make his presence felt in the Festival Stakes

Kris Lees wants to see an improved performance from Gem Song at Rosehill to warrant pressing on towards the Villiers Stakes.

More was expected from the talented but injury-prone six-year-old when he resumed from a lengthy break in The Hunter where he finished a sound but underwhelming seventh to rising star Lost And Running.

He does boast outstanding second-up statistics with three wins and a placing from five attempts and Lees has been happy with the progress of the Newcastle Newmarket winner ahead of Saturday’s Festival Stakes (1500m).

“We probably expected a little more of him first-up, but he got a pass mark,” Lees said.

“He’s an older horse and as a rule we don’t give them too many runs in a preparation.

“But he has come through the Hunter really well and he usually runs well second-up.”

Rosehill will be in the heavy range for Saturday’s 10-race program and Gem Song has just one win from six starts on rain-affected tracks.

However, his wet form is better than it appears.

He handled soft 7 conditions to claim the 2019 Eskimo Prince Stakes and finished fourth in that year’s Epsom Handicap on a similar surface.

He has also performed well in soft conditions more recently, with a fourth to Masked Crusader at Group 3 level in February and a fifth to Think It Over in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes in March when he was beaten less than two lengths.

“Soft is fine for him. If it’s really heavy, we might have to reconsider and look at our options,” Lees said.

“I just want to see him run well. He is pretty consistent as a rule, so if he does that we will look to press on to the Villiers.”

Lees also has Countofmontecristo in the race, but the former Singapore galloper is in doubt to run if the track doesn’t improve.

 
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