Jim & Greg Lee’s outside hope Keepit To Yourself scored an upset in the major race of the weekend beating home a better fancied field of rivals in Saturday’s Winter Challenge 2015.
The Rosehill Gardens feature headlined the Horse’s Birthday weekend and saw 10 gallopers line-up in this season’s $100,000 Listed The Paslode Winter Challenge (1500m).
Race favourite at $4 upon jumping was the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Redoute’s Choice five-year-old Great Esteem who posted his third straight second place finish on the trot when crossing one and a quarter lengths off the upset Winter Challenge winner Keepit To Yourself ($20).
In third finishing off the winning Winter Challenge trifecta a further length back was then the Chris Waller-trained Rugged Cross ($6) who was far from disgraced with the hefty 58kg, two kilos more than the seven-year-old import had on his back last time out to win the Listed Winter Challenge (1400m) at the same track.
Waller, who prepared the 2013 Winter Challenge quinella and 2014 Winter Challenge trifecta, also prepared fellow import Eigelstein ($5) for fourth and You’ll Never ($5) for sixth.
Keepit To Yourself has now won six of his 30 starts for $184,420 and joined the likes of his Scone Cup – Hawkesbury Cup double winning brother Keepin’ The Dream, Bunabar and Caulfield Cup champ Hayai as black-type winners for the small Lee stable.
The firmer track conditions of Saturday’s meeting as opposed to the Heavy (8) Sydney courses the Keeper six-year-old had been racing on suited and while he surprised the punters and the bookies, co-trainer Greg Lee always knew he had improvement in him.
“I have been saying that he needs to get on a better track and he will improve,” Lee told the media post-win.
“He gets on soft tracks and just skates a bit and loses his confidence, then drops out and comes again. He just struggles but an even surface makes a difference.”
Lee was also full or praise for hoop Blake Shinn who rode him for a second behind Stylish Lad over the Warwick Farm mile in mid-July, while Tommy Berry got the job done on the weekend thanks to an on-the-pace ride.
“I have to give Blake Shinn a rap because he told me that after running second a couple of starts ago that he thinks there was a win in him,” he said.
“The track being a bit firmer certainly helped him a bit.”
Berry credited not only the track conditions but also keeping the horse up closer to the lead where he was able to hit the front with 300m to go before drawing away for the clear victory.
“They said to me to ride him aggressively and I talked to Danny and said he hit flat spot at around the 600 metres last time, so I had that in my mind,” Berry, who also rode last year’s winner He’s Your Man, said.
“They went hard early and then steadied and once they did that I was able to get at him at the 600m and get going and he just got stronger and stronger.”
The stable is now likely to send Keepit To Yourself out for a break before returning at the end of the year during the summer to target the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) over the Randwick mile in December.
“He has done a good job and will go for a break now and we might try him in the Villiers Stakes when the track are firm,” Lee said.
Berry agreed the Villiers Stakes would make a nice end of year target for the horse.
“They place their horses right and don’t get that many chances at this level, so it is good for them,” Berry said.
“It was the right horse on the right day and that is about his level. I don’t think he is going to step up further but a race like the Villiers could be a good one for him.”
See below for the full Winter Challenge 2015 results and finishing order.
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2015 Winter Challenge Results & Finishing Order
Rosehill Race 6 – 01/08/2015
|1||10||KEEPIT TO YOURSELF (NZ)||Jim & Greg Lee||Tommy Berry||–||6||54kg||$20|
|2||9||GREAT ESTEEM||Peter & Paul Snowden||Tim Clark||1.3L||4||54kg||$4F|
|3||2||RUGGED CROSS (GB)||Chris Waller||Brenton Avdulla||2.1L||2||58kg||$6|
|4||6||EIGELSTEIN (GB)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||2.3L||8||54.5kg||$5|
|5||1||SPURTONIC||Gai Waterhouse||Danny Beasley||2.4L||5||59kg||$26|
|6||3||YOU’LL NEVER||Chris Waller||Blake Shinn||2.5L||7||57.5kg||$5|
|7||8||NOELA’S CHOICE||Peter G Moody||Regan Bayliss (a)||4.1L||10||54kg||$8.50|
|8||4||WOULDNT IT BE NICE||Paul Perry||Thomas Huet||4.4L||1||57kg||$11|
|9||5||DISCLAIMER (GB)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||5.4L||9||56kg||$31|
|10||7||CANNY BALLAD||John P Thompson||Sam Clipperton||5.6L||3||54kg||$31|