Kris Lees’ hopes of winning an elusive hometown cup have been strengthened after he trained the quinella in the Premier’s Cup.
Sense Of Occasion ($8) stormed home to defeat his more-fancied stablemate Singing, who was $6 into $4.60 in the Listed race at Rosehill.
Lees is NSW’s most successful trainer based outside Sydney, but has never won the Newcastle Gold Cup on his home track.
He said he now had two live chances for the Group Three race over 2300m on September 16.
The Premier’s Cup was Sense Of Occasion’s first win for Lees with the horse formerly trained by Tony McEvoy and Joe Pride after the death of his original trainer Guy Walter.
Lees said he was surprised Sense Of Occasion was able to overcome imported stayer Singing after a tough run.
“To be honest I gave up on the winner in the run,” Lees said.
“He looked like he was posted three deep without cover and the other horse was travelling sweetly.
“The second horse was very good. He was game in defeat.”
Sense Of Occasion’s rider Tim Clark said the horse’s staying quality had shone through.
“Being wide I just had to take my medicine and sit there,” Clark said.
“There was no point rushing forward, it wasn’t going to do the horse any good.”
Lees said Singing, who finished second to Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist in a Group Two race in Germany, would improve following his second Australian start.