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Le Romain is better equipped to go one better in this year's All Aged Stakes

Kris Lees has run the rule over Le Romain’s rivals for the All Aged Stakes and has no doubt the triple Group One winner faces a tougher task this autumn.

But Newcastle’s leading trainer believes Le Romain is also better equipped to improve on last year’s second to Tivaci with Saturday’s Group One 1400m All Aged Stakes at Randwick the primary goal of his campaign.

Twelve months ago Lees used the All Aged as a fall-back option after the five-year-old gelding’s 15th in the Doncaster Mile.

“Last year he had no luck in the Doncaster so we dropped him back, now this is the race he’s been aimed at,” Lees said.

Lees has felt Le Romain is on track to be competitive after an encouraging fourth in the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m), where he crossed the line 4-3/4 lengths shy of Trapeze Artist.

“He showed that he’s getting back to his best,” Lees said.

“It’s his preferred journey and providing he gets over from the outside gate he’ll be effective off a really good second-up run.”

Le Romain, who is attempting to win for the first time since the Group One Canterbury Stakes in March last year, was on the third line of betting with the TAB at $8.50 on Friday.

Three-year-old Trapeze Artist continued to lead the market at $2.30 ahead of Brave Smash ($6.50).

Lees also saddles up Clearly Innocent ($23), who he described as “a bit of a sleeper” if forecast rain eventuates.

He said Clearly Innocent’s trio of sixths this campaign had mitigating factors given he encountered Winx and Happy Clapper.

“The George Ryder run may look a bit plain but that can happen when you come up against Winx.”

The Lees duo might yet find their task easier with Brave Smash a possible defection.

Trainer Darren Weir has already scratched stablemate Red Cardinal and may do likewise with Brave Smash rain does not soften the track.

Jamie Lovett, a director of Australian Bloodstock, said a decision on whether Brave Smash, seventh in the TJ Smith, could wait until race day.

“He came out of the race quite sore across the back. Darren’s a little bit guarded,” he told Sky Sports Radio.

Hartnell ($9.50), who has chased Winx home seven times without success, has the services of her jockey Hugh Bowman as he attempts to add another 1400m-Group One win to his record following his C F Orr Stakes triumph in February.

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