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Trainer Kris Lees has described the chances of his three-time Group 1 winner Le Romain lining-up in the 2017 Epsom Handicap field in Sydney as “highly unlikely”.
Weights for the Group 1 $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m), to run at Royal Randwick on September 30, were released by Racing NSW on Monday.
Lees’ Hard Spun five-year-old Le Romain is one of three equal 58kg top weights along with the Darren Weir-trained stablemates Black Heart Bart and last Saturday’s Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) winner Humidor.
Le Romain also ran in the Makybe Diva Stakes, but things went amiss for the $2.25 million earner who finished a disappointing second-last (11th) behind the surprise winner.
Lees said that Le Romain had been brought back home to Sydney after the failure, which has set back his spring campaign and likely ruled him out of a shot at Epsom Handicap glory.
“Le Romain pulled up with a dirty throat after the Makybe Diva, and I’ve brought him home,” Lees told Racing NSW.
“I’ll monitor him, but it’s highly unlikely he will run in the Epsom.”
“I may trial him here on Friday week and then make a decision about the remainder of the spring.”
There are currently six Lees-trained horses featured in the 89 Epsom Handicap nominations, but the Newcastle-based horseman has indicated that only one looks set to represent him in the classic.
Double Dream (=77) and Skylight Glow (83) are unlikely to make the starting line-up being well down the Epsom Handicap order of entry.
That leaves Sense Of Occasion (=8), Invincible Gem (=13) and Sound Proposition (=16), with the latter his best chance of running.
Four-year-old I Am Invincible mare Invincible Gem received 52kg from the handicappers, the autumn’s Randwick Guineas runner-up kicking off her spring with a win over Le Romain on August 5 in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m).
She was last seen crossing only two lengths back third behind subsequent George Main Stakes runner-up to Winx, Happy Clapper, in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m).
Lees was forced to withdraw her from the Newcastle Gold Cup Day card and her targeted race, the Group 3 Tibbie Stakes (1400m), at home at Broadmeadow last Friday due to injury however and she won’t be seen again this spring.
“Invincible Gem has had a setback and won’t race again this campaign,” Lees said.
As for Sense Of Occasion, winner of the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) during the winter, the Street Sense seven-year-old is more likely to run in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (1800m) on Epsom Handicap Day after its prize money was boosted to $500,000.
Sense Of Occasion is allocated 56kg in the Epsom Handicap weights and was last seen running a distant eighth behind the country’s best horse, Winx, in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at the start of the month.
That leaves Sound Proposition who looks well-weighted for the Epsom on 53.5kg.
An in-form six-year-olds on of Savabeel, Sound Proposition is undefeated at Randwick having won back-to-back races at the track over 1600m and 1800m respectively during the winter carrying big kilos (58.5kg and 60kg).
His latest run was on Newcastle Cup Day when finishing a devastatingly close in a fast-finishing second to Got Unders in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) where he carted 59kg giving away five kilos to the winner.
“It looks to be a weight Sound Proposition can be very competitive with and he’ll definitely line up in the Epsom,” Lees said.
Futures Epsom Handicap 2017 betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has the Chris Waller-trained mare Egg Tart installed as the $5 favourite ahead of Happy Clapper ($5.50).
Sound Proposition currently pays $21 in those all-in Epsom Handicap odds.
To check out the full Epsom Handicap odds online for the 2017 edition of the mile showdown, head to Ladbrokes.com.au now.
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