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Lees to have 2 runners in Provincial final

Leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will get the chance to repeat a feat he achieved 12 months ago after Clevedon Bay became his second confirmed starter in the $400,000 Provincial Championship Final.

The mare secured one of the final three places in the Final at Randwick on April 8 with a determined victory in the final qualifying heat at Newcastle on Wednesday.

She joins stablemate Princess Posh in the Randwick feature, giving Lees two runners and a chance to emulate his 2016 effort when he produced the quinella with Danish Twist and Powerline.

Lees stacked the bases in last year’s Final with eight runners but is satisfied his two are worthy contenders.

“She’s (Clevedon Bay) getting there with a bit of timing and she still gets in on the limit so she’s not without a chance,” Lees said.

Lees said there was little between Clevedon Bay and Princess Posh, who qualified for the Final by winning a heat at Wyong.

Brenton Avdulla rode both to their respective qualifying wins but won’t be aboard either on Saturday week because of suspension.

Clevedon Bay was ridden quietly by Avdulla before launching a strong run down the outside to score by a long neck over the Kim Waugh-trained Calabasas with Pacific Reign the same margin away third.

“She really let down today ridden a little more conservatively,” Lees said.

The first three horses across the line have earned spots in the Provincial Championship Final with Waugh hoping for a case of third time lucky having trained a minor placegetter in the race’s only two editions.

“Second-up today and a month between runs, I was a bit concerned about that and the wide barrier so I was very happy with that, ” Waugh said.

David Atkins, trainer of Pacific Reign, was thrilled his horse would get the chance to compete at The Championships.

“It’s great for the owners,” he said.

“They’re racing for good money. Most of these horses never race for that sort of money.”

The race wasn’t as happy for Luke and Robert Price when Leami Astray missed her chance to qualify when she was scratched at the barrier after becoming cast in the stalls.

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