Trainer Kris Lees is thrilled to have added Group 1 winner River Lad to his arsenal for the 2016 Autumn Carnival and is confident the horse is primed for a big performance in Saturday’s Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens.
River Lad has spent the vast majority of his racing career under the guidance of Sunshine Coast-based trainer Natalie McCall; posting an impressive thirteen wins and eleven minors through forty-two starts; highlighted by success in the 2014 edition of the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
Lees was pleased with the Top Echelon gelding’s first run under his care for sixth in the Listed Takeover Target Stakes (1200m) at Gosford on January 8th and is confident he will carry plenty of improvement into the 2016 Expressway Stakes.
“His first-up run was satisfactory, it was good enough,” Lees told AAP.
“He needed it, he’d been off the scene for quite a while and I think he will improve again (from Saturday).
“I think he was getting a bit hard to place up there (in Brisbane) at this time of year.
“He’s one of those horses now, he’s in a very high grade being a Group One winner.
“He is an older horse so I’m just trying to place him right. I think he’ll be competitive against these horses and the fact he’s got a run under his belt probably helps.”
Having taking out the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) a fortnight prior to his Stradbroke Handicap triumph, River Lad was set for a campaign through the 2014 Spring Carnival, and while placing fourth behind Chautauqua in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) first-up, failed to make anything of an impact in either of the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m).
Returning for just one start in 2015, River Lad failed to beat a single runner home in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) on the Gold Coast in late April and was immediately returned to the paddock.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2016 Expressway Stakes odds, for which River Lad can be taken at a generous quote of $17 for success or $3.90 to finish in the first three.