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Lees’ sense proves correct in Doomben Cup

Jockey Corey Brown gestures after riding Sense of Occasion to victory
Everything went to plan for Sense of Occasion when he came from well back to win the Doomben Cup.

Everything fell into place for galloper Sense of Occasion when a fast early pace allowed him to charge home and win the Group One Doomben Cup (2000m) on Saturday.

Trainer Kris Lees was delighted when rain fell during the week for the noted wet tracker and he was able to get big race jockey Corey Brown on the gelding.

The combination paid off when Sense of Occasion ($9) charged home to beat Star Exhibit ($8) by 1-1/4 lengths with a short neck to Rudy ($31) in third.

Lees said when the rain came his confidence grew because Sense of Occasion was placed in Group One company in the Doncaster and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Sydney on wet tracks during the autumn.

Sense of Occasion had also won five times on rain-affected tracks with his best previous win coming in the Group Two Villiers at Randwick on a soft seven surface in December.

“I suppose I have to admit he is best on wet tracks” Lees said.

“But he is such an honest horse and he really does try.”

Lees paid tribute to Sense of Occasion’s previous trainers, the late Guy Walter, Joe Pride and Tony McEvoy.

“Sense of Occasion has been well looked after during his career by all his trainers and now we are getting the benefit,” Lees said.

However, Sense of Occasion has flourished in Newcastle and has now won $1.6 million prize money with the majority earned since joining Lees.

“He had no luck in the Hollindale Stakes Cup at the Gold Coast when sixth and that race got him ready for today,” Lees said.

“But I think that will be it.

“We will give him a break now and then set him for the spring.”

The win was Lees’ third Group One this season and the third for Brown this year, who was unhappy with his ride on the six-year-old after getting beaten in the Hollindale.

“I had to pull my socks up today because I gave him a bit of an ordinary ride at the Gold Coast,” he said.

“I was downbeat after drawing 18 of 18 but once he got into a three wide trailing position I was confident Sense of Occasion would win.

“I don’t want to sound too cocky but when he got into that position I felt the race was over.”

Darren Weir was thrilled by the run of Star Exhibit, who was having only his second start since joining the trainer’s stable from West Australia.

“He ran out of his skin and he will be more than competitive over here,” Weir said.

Trainer Helen Page was excited with the run of Rudy, who stalked the pace and fought on well in the straight.

“It was a great ride by Tim Clark and now we will think about the Brisbane Cup,” Page said.

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