Prized Icon is rated a $26 chance in the Doncaster. Picture: Ian Currie
Prized Icon is rated a $26 chance in the Doncaster. Picture: Ian Currie

Lees within reach of rare double

TRAINER Kris Lees has a realistic opportunity of claiming the rare Derby-Doncaster double on day one of The Championships at Royal Randwick.

Furore, the surprise carnival contender, is one of the leading chances in Saturday's Group 1 $2 million ATC Australian Derby (2400m) and proven big-race performer Prized Icon and possibly stablemate Invincible Gem will line up in the Group 1 $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m).

Since the Derby's switch from spring to autumn in 1979, the only trainer to have won the big Randwick autumn carnival double is Hall of Famer the late Tommy Smith in 1980 with the legendary Kingston Town (Derby) and Iko (Doncaster).

But Lees could emulate Smith's unique achievement, with Furore rated the $7 second favourite for the Derby, and  Prized Icon and Invincible Gem at $26 in an open Doncaster.

The likelihood of a good racing surface for the Derby-Doncaster meeting  is a further boost to Lees' confidence.

Astute trainer Kris Lees could pull of one of racing’s most cherished and rare doubles. Picture: Getty Images
Astute trainer Kris Lees could pull of one of racing’s most cherished and rare doubles. Picture: Getty Images

This Saturday's meeting is expected to be the first Derby and Doncaster run on a good track since the races were split and held over the Easter long weekend in 2006, when Headturner won the Derby and Racing To Win scored in the Doncaster two days later.

Furore is in his first race preparation and has exceeded all expectations by winning his first four starts before running a luckless third to D'Argento in the Rosehill Guineas.

Victoria Derby winner Prized Icon is a leading candidate in the Doncaster Mile. Picture: Ian Currie
Victoria Derby winner Prized Icon is a leading candidate in the Doncaster Mile. Picture: Ian Currie

"I can't recall having a Derby runner at Randwick before,'' Lees said.

"I've had plenty of Oaks runners and been all around that race with seconds, thirds and fourths, but Furore is my first Derby chance.

"He has surprised me every time he has gone to the races and he was very good the other day in the Rosehill Guineas.''

Lees revealed he would put the blinkers back on Prized Icon for the Doncaster Mile.

"Prized Icon is coming back from a 2000m race (third to Gailo Chop in the Ranvet Stakes) and that has toughened him up for the Doncaster,'' Lees said.

"He has been around the money every start for me and I've been waiting to get him into a high-pressure race where he can sit off them a bit and finish off strongly.''

Lees is still deciding whether to run Invincible Gem and Aide Memoire in the Doncaster or wait for the Group 1 $1 million Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) on April 14.

The trainer's top sprinter Le Romain will take on Redzel and In Her Time in the Group 1 $2.5 million Darley T.J. Smith (1200m) on Saturday.



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