Gem Song has given the locals something to cheer about by claiming the Group 3 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) at Newcastle on Monday afternoon under Hugh Bowman.
Despite being sent out as a $19 chance with online bookmakers in the 12-horse field, the Kris Lees-trained six-year-old won with plenty in hand at a track where he has had success at in the past.
The son of Your Song claimed the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket (1400m) 12 months ago and had not won since then, but the return to his home surroundings sparked plenty of life into the $700,000 earner.
After jumping cleanly from barrier seven, Bowman – who had claimed the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes in the race prior – snagged the gelding back to near last, before weaving a passage through the field and finishing over the top of tiring leader Maotai.
Given it was Gem Song’s first run for the autumn, Lees says he is happy to be patient with him now and aim him at a race like the Group 3 Hall Mark Stakes (1200m) on April 16 at Rosehill Gardens.
Gem Song explodes late under the urging of @HugeBowman to claim the Group 3 Star Kingdom Stakes! 🤯
— SKY Racing (@SkyRacingAU) March 28, 2022
“He races well here, and that’s probably an ideal surface for him – just a little bit of give in it, which he prefers,” Lees said on Sky Racing.
“He was travelling really sweet in the run and I could see he was gonna let down well. Good to see him perform like that.
“That’s right – he likes that good solid tempo, Hugh presented him at the right time and he let down really well.
“Probably wait until the Hall Mark Stakes – a race like that – we’ll just keep him in his right grade and try and keep him in winning form.”
Bowman, who enjoyed a winning double to end the day, said that the track played brilliantly throughout the course of the afternoon.
Following the Doncaster Prelude (Race 4), the track was upgraded from a Soft 7 to a Soft 6, and while the upgrade didn’t seem completely necessary to Bowman, he had no complaints.
“It raced beautifully fullstop, but considering how much traffic has been over it and the amount of wet weather – they may not have had exactly what we’ve had in Sydney – but to race so fairly – it is testing ground – I know it was rated a 6 by the end of the day, but to me personally it felt a bit more testing,” Bowman said.
“It’s going to suit some horses more than others, but to come here and have fair ground for the horses to run on, that’s the main thing and that’s what they got, so well done to all.”