Closing in on a personal best season leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will saddle Soapy Star and Express Power in Saturday’s Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm.
The fillies may be hard to separate while the horseman warns punters not to discard Motspur and Next The Universe which are in action at Rosehill.
“Look I’d say Express Power has the edge on Soapy Star but the rain has arrived, the track is a slow seven already,” Lees said on Friday.
“That brings Soapy Star right into the race, we know she loves it and that is a big advantage in any race.”
Lees trained the Queensland Oaks winner back in 2005 via Vitesse Dane which followed a similar path as Soapy Star and Express Power.
“The difference being Vitesse Dane was a good thing beaten in the Doomben Roses,” Lees said.
“Express Power had a couple of excuses in the Roses. We probably rode her a little close due to the good barrier and she got flattened going into the first and second turn.
“A bloke got suspended and she was only beaten just under four lengths.
“She had a fair bit of bark off her after the event, she pulled up a bit scratchy.”
Lees believes the VRC Oaks and Australian Oaks runner-up Dear Demi is the one to beat along with the Victorian filly Gondokoro.
“All being right we probably can’t beat the other two but we have a fair bit up our sleeve,” Lees said.
“I was pretty pleased with the way Express Power worked at the Gold Coast on Tuesday morning.
“Both mine are untried at the journey and it all depended how they shaped up in the lead-up races.
“They’ve both made it to the oaks and there is a small question mark at the 2400m but most of them are, bar two or three in the race which you will find in any oaks.”
Bearing down on 100 winners for the season Lees currently sits sixth on the Sydney trainers premiership having led in 24 winners since August 1.
“It has been a good season, pleasing, we are on track to train more than 110 winners which would be my best to date,” Lees said.
“Probably the most pleasing aspect to the season is the Sydney tally, that’s where you want to be winning races.”
And Motspur and Next The Universe are ready to add to the city score.
“Motspur is well and up to a journey he needs,” Lees said.
“He’ll answer a few questions about where he is going. He has been a great old horse, he has come back from plenty of injuries and is probably sounder than ever.
“Next The Universe rarely wins but rarely runs a bad race. Her three runs back this prep have been full of merit.
“She is a back marker and things have to go right. She has drawn good tomorrow, hopefully she can possie up a bit closer, I think she’ll run really well.”
By Craig Young