Rawiller Lauds Lees After Kinloch Snares Provincial-Midway Crown

By Ray Hickson

With seven runners in the race nobody could be surprised that Kris Lees trained the winner of the $500,000 Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championships Final (1400m) but jockey Nash Rawiller had nothing but praise for the Newcastle trainer after partnering emerging gelding Kinloch to victory.

Trainer Kris Lees (Pic: Steve Hart)

The four-year-old had always shown a good slice of talent but he’s given Lees plenty of headaches since his debut win just under two years ago and that work caught Rawiller’s attention.

“Just a good effort by the horse, great training performance,’’ Rawiller said.

“We all know Kris Lees is right up there in the top echelon of trainers but races like this are great. It gives a bloke like him a chance to compete against a more even lot of horses and this horse was really well placed today.

“His stablemates were probably a little bit better found in the market, but I’ve trialled this bloke before and knew he had something up his sleeve so to come and win a nice race like this is good to get the job done.”

In a close finish, it took all of Rawiller’s trademark vigour to get Kinloch home by a head from Tracey Bartley’s Kiss Sum with a half-neck to the Lees-trained outsider French Marine in third.

Kinloch qualified for the race with a fast finishing win in the Gosford 1200m heat back on March 12, his first start as a gelding and that’s something Lees said has been the making of him.

“He was a promising horse all along,’’ he said.

“Just lost his way a bit as colts can do and Pinelea wisely made the right decision to geld him and he’s come back a much smarter horse.”

It was Lees’ fourth win in the Provincial-Midway Championships, run for the first time this year with Midway eligible horses, following Cristal Breeze last year, Serene Miss (2018) and Danish Twist (2016).

He didn’t know where to look in the straight as stablemates Rustic Steel and French Marine hit the lead from Kim Waugh’s Great News before Kinloch launched despite a wide run from the second half of the field then held off the late surge by Kiss Sum.

“I thought Rustic Steel looked sweet in the run,’’ Lees said.

“Hugh (Bowman) gave him a perfect ride and he presented at the right time. I could see French Marine trying hard underneath them.

“At the finish I actually thought Kiss Sum (2nd) had come over the top of them.

“A really good to win for these connections, they put a lot of money into racing both here and New Zealand so it’s great to have a winner for them on a big day.”

The Lees contingent finished first, third, fourth (Rustic Steel), sixth (Never Talk), eighth (Tawfiq Lass), ninth (Confessed) and tenth (Grande Rumore).

Runner-up Kiss Sum, the Four Pillars winner from the spring, clocked the race's fastest last 600m of 36.98 (Punter's Intelligence) as he closed off the race strongly.