Former Kiwi Adds Intrigue To Australian Oaks

Kris Lees and new stable acquisition Le Villi have had about as much time to get to know each other as a couple on a speed dating experience.

But Lees is happy to progress to the next round and take her to Saturday’s ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick.

The former New Zealander arrived at his stables less than two weeks ago, having been purchased by Lees’ long-time clients Australian Bloodstock prior to her sixth in the New Zealand Oaks (2400m) on March 19.

Lees admits it is a challenge to prepare a horse he doesn’t know well for a Group 1 assignment but says she has been sent over in terrific order by her former conditioner John Wheeler and has strong staying credentials.

“It’s a little bit fine for us, but she has settled in well,” Lees said.

“She is a nice filly and she’s very fit and well.

“It’s probably a step up in grade but she looks like she will run the trip.”

Le Villi settled worse than midfield in the New Zealand Oaks and didn’t get a lot of room late, finishing less than 2-1/2 lengths behind the Jamie Richards-trained winner Belle En Rouge.

While the majority of her rivals are stepping up in distance, Le Villi has the benefit of a run over the Oaks journey and given Saturday’s renewal will be staged on a testing track, Lees is hoping that is an advantage.

“There’s not many in the race that have been to a mile-and-a-half already, so I think it’s a good fitness edge,” he said.

Lees will also saddle-up Mauricently, who has been getting well out of her ground from wide draws in her lead-up runs, including when making late headway to finish sixth behind Honeycreeper in the Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m).

From an inside draw on Saturday, Lees is hoping she can give herself less work to do.

“She probably lacks the class, but she is one that will run the trip and she has had a good grounding for this,” he said.

– RAS NewsWire

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