Newcastle Over Winx Clash for Le Romain

Newcastle horseman Kris Lees has opted to run his Group 1 winner Le Romain at home in Friday’s Cameron Handicap over a clash with champion mare Winx at Randwick on Saturday.

Le Romain

2016 Epsom Handicap-bound Le Romain is likely to run at Newcastle on Friday over a George Main run at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Steve Hart.

Winner of the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) as a three-year-old in the autumn, Hard Spun gelding Le Romain is a dual acceptor this Friday – Saturday.

Connections paid the final acceptance fee for the $854,025 earner for both the $150,000 Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1350m) at Beaumont on Newcastle Cup Day as well as the $500,000 Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) on Saturday at Royal Randwick.

Lees has since confirmed that bar the scratching of Chris Waller’s reigning Cox Plate winner Winx from the weight-for-age George Main Stakes field or heavy rain at Newcastle, Le Romain would take on an easier field of rivals in the Cameron Handicap.

“At this stage, Le Romain is running in the Cameron,” Lees said in a statement on his website.

“He would be running only for second at Randwick [behind Winx].

“But it is definitely not going to be an easy task here [at Newcastle].”

For the elite level Sydney Spring Racing Carnival clash on Saturday Lees’ galloper is drawn barrier one, a tricky gate at Randwick, with Christian Reith booked for the ride on 58.5kg.

Reith will likely miss out on a chance at a Group 1 upset, but will partner Le Romain at Newcastle from barrier three on the 59kg top weight in the Cameron Handicap.

Shooting for her eleventh win on the trot and her seventh career Group 1, Winx is the $1.16 odds-on favourite through in George Main Stakes betting.

Le Romain, yet to be officially scratched, is at $15.

He at a shorter $3.30 in Friday’s Cameron Handicap odds, the markets led by early mover Chetwood ($3.10) from the Godolphin stables who comes off back-to-back wins at Canterbury (1250m) and Rosehill (1350m) in August respectively.

Lees added that along with the firming favourite, he also rated the Kim Waugh-trained His Majesty from Wyong a definite Cameron Handicap danger.

“I’ve got great respect for Kim Waugh’s His Majesty and also John O’Shea’s Chetwood,” he said.

Shamardal seven-year-old His Majesty pays $6.50 in the latest Cameron Handicap betting markets, the gelding after his second win from as many starts at the track.

He won over 1100m at Rosehill narrowly two back before a close fifth when only a length off the winner Sir Bacchus at Rosehill Gardens last time out on August 27.

In that Benchmark 85, the Irish-bred His Majesty carried 61.5kg to victory with Tim Clark aboard.

Clark is on rival Chetwood in the Cameron Handicap and is replaced on Waugh’s hopeful by Brenton Avdulla.

His Majesty also drops notably in weights to Friday’s 54kg minimum and is a big chance at that weight.

Le Romain has had two runs this time in finishing runner-up to Tycoon Tara in the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) and second to Hauraki a fortnight ago in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m).

His main aim this campaign is the $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 1.

Lees, who chases his first Epsom success, admitted that a Cameron Handicap win by Le Romain would affect his Epsom Handicap weight and chances of adding another Group 1 win to his record.

“If he won the Cameron, there’s every likelihood he would get top weight for the Epsom at Randwick on October 1,” he said.

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