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Sixties Groove salutes for Lees at Grafton

Sixties Groove has set a modern-day weight-carrying record to deliver trainer Kris Lees an inaugural win in the Listed Grafton Cup.

Making light of his 61kg topweight, Sixties Groove settled among the tailenders in Thursday’s 2350m feature before jockey Jason Collett pinched ground toward the inside around the home turn.

Collett angled the gelding into the clear and the $3.30 favourite powered down the outside to score by a half-neck over The Lord Mayor ($9) with his Chris Waller-trained stablemate Carzoff ($4.60) another length away.

“It was a great ride. He had a wall of horses in front of him and he threaded the needle and got there when it mattered,” Lees said.

The victory gave Lees his first Grafton Cup, although the trainer said the annual country showpiece was not typically on his radar.

However, major cuts to this year’s winter carnival in Brisbane sent Lees shopping for alternative races for his contingent of stayers and Sixties Groove was the benefactor.

Last year’s Brisbane Cup winner and Group One-placed in the Doomben Cup, Sixties Groove has now won nine of 30 starts to earn another shot at the top level this spring.

“I will freshen him up and probably aim towards the Metropolitan,” Lees said.

The trainer was also satisfied with the effort of stablemate Big Duke, who finished eighth, but did not appreciate the drying Grafton track.

Lees is enjoying a remarkable season, leading the state premiership and notching his 200th winner for the season with High Opinion’s Randwick victory last Saturday.

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