It has been 16 years since Kris Lees claimed his first Sydney Cup with stable warhorse County Tyrone and he is hoping he has found his next genuine two-miler in European import Luncies.
County Tyrone was a familiar face in the staying feature during his long and successful career, contesting the race an incredible six times between 2003 and 2008 and finishing outside the top-four just once.
Luncies will be tackling his first Sydney Cup (3200m) on Saturday, but the Group 1 has been a long-range target since his arrival in Australia 12 months ago, his close second to Warning in the St Leger Stakes (2600m) at Randwick in October sealing the deal.
“He’s in good order. We’ve always thought he’d run the two miles out, so he will get his chance,” Lees said.
With 18 of the 19 Sydney Cup runners handicapped on 51.5kg and under, Lees swooped weeks ago to secure lightweight jockey Robbie Dolan.
Dolan has prior experience on the horse, partnering him in The Metropolitan last spring and renewing the acquaintance at his final lead-up run in the Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) last weekend, the pair finishing third behind Nerve Not Verve.
The Chairman’s handicap has historically been a strong Sydney Cup pointer with 13 of the past 27 winners emerging from the race.
Lees again holds the aces in Saturday’s Provincial Championships Final (1400m) as he looks to win the $500,000 feature for a fourth time, his previous victories coming with Danish Twist (2016), Serene Miss (2018) and Cristal Breeze last year.
The Newcastle horseman saddles-up seven of the 16 runners, headed by favourite Never Talk and the consistent Rustic Steel.
The pair had varying fortunes at the barrier draw with Never Talk landing gate two and Rustic Steel 14, although Lees isn’t sure which will be more advantageous on the heavy track.
“The two favoured ones of mine, one has drawn in and one has drawn out, so I don’t know what it will mean but I think they’ll all get their chance,” Lees said.