Trainer Kris Lees completed a two-state feature race double and jockey Danny Beasley rode his first Sydney stakes winner in eight years when they combined with Ucalledit at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
In a blanket finish with less than a length separating the top five placegetters, Ucalledit finished strongly to win the Listed $160,000 Civic Stakes (1400m).
Lees, who also prepared classy Luncies to win the Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup at Eagle Farm, gained particular satisfaction for providing Beasley with his first feature race win in Sydney since Divertire won the 2015 Group 3 Dark Jewel Classic at the Scone stand-alone meeting.
“Danny rode a lot for me in the early days of my training career, and he rode a lot for (father) Max, too,” Lees said.
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“From the soft gate today, Danny gave Ucalledit a lovely ride stalking the speed then the horse let down well.
“Who would have thought Danny would be back here riding stakes winners at Randwick?”
Beasley, 48, left Sydney racing to ride in Singapore in 2007 and apart from a brief comeback in 2015, he has not ridden here until returning home in January basing himself in the Riverina.
“I’m just really loving what I’m doing and I think that’s shining through in my riding. I don’t go out there with any pressure, I just go out there and enjoy it,” Beasley said.
“You come down and ride in these Highways and you feel like you’re representing your area, especially when you’re riding a Wagga-trained horse like I did today with (winner) Salute Again for (trainer) Wayne Carroll.
“I’ve got a very different perspective on riding and racing these days and it goes to show on the track.
“I’m enjoying riding for people like Fred (Kris Lees), I rode winners for his dad and rode winners for Fred when I was here before and it’s a great feeling winning for him again.”
Danny Beasley and Ucalledit (right) defeat King Of Hasting (left) in the Civic Stakes. Picture: Getty Images
Ucalledit ($9) had been unplaced in three starts to begin his campaign but burst back to top form when he finished fast to win by a half-length from King Of Hastings ($9) with Cisco Bay ($7.50) a long head away third.
Cotehele was sent out the $4.80 favourite and after having to do a bit of work to get across from his outside barrier early in the race, he fought hard to finish fifth, less than a length behind the winner.
Lees said Ucalledit, who is raced by Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett from Australian Bloodstock, had been “going better than the form guide reads”.
“He has been luckless all preparation, albeit in stronger grade in Queensland,” Lees said.
“His runs have been better than it looks so it was not a huge surprise to me that he was able to win. He has just needed a few things to go right for him.
“He rushed through the grades last preparation which got his rating up and now he has to maintain this type of form which he found today.”
Ucalledit improved his record to nine wins from 24 starts and took his career earnings to over $430,000 with his second stakes success.
Lees said Ucalledit is still early in his campaign and will chase more black type wins over winter.
Trainer Kris Lees has a few options in mind for Ucalledit. Picture: Getty Images
“We could look at the Ramornie Handicap but I’m thinking of stretching him out to a mile for the South Grafton Cup,” Lees said.
“The race is a Big Dance qualifier so it looks a nice option for Ucalledit. Our other runner, Acquitted who ran a good race for seventh, will definitely go to the South Grafton Cup.
“As for Luncies, that win was two years in the making but he has raced well all preparation. We might look at the Caloundra Cup next week or wait for the Grafton Cup.”
Beasley’s focus is more immediate – he has five rides at the Narrandera meeting on Sunday.
“That’s the beauty of what I’m doing,” Beasley said. “I come here and can compete on this magnificent track which brings me so many memories, but then I’m going to Narrandera tomorrow.
“I still get a buzz riding a winner for whoever it is, young blokes like Mitch Beer who I’m riding for at Narrandera.
“These blokes are dreaming of what I’ve been able to do. To go back there and sit beside the Holly Durnan’s and those kids coming through and tell them, ‘30 years ago this was me so keep dreaming and keep working hard and hopefully one day this is you and I’ll be there cheering them on’.
“Coming back to Australia was all about giving a bit back and I’m so thankful to God. He gave me the opportunity to be doing this so it’s pretty special.”