Lees Lightning pair impossible to split

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Trainer Kris Lees finds it impossible to split his two sprinters In Her Time (Time Thief) and Graff (Star Witness) ahead of Saturday's G1 Black Caviar Lightning S. at Flemington.

Both resume in the 1000m straight event, with the race a potential gold mine for Graff's owner Alan Bell, who won the race twice with his star sprinter Schillaci (Salieri {USA}) in the 1990s.

A victory would see Graff become the first son of Star Witness to win a Group 1 and would be a substantial boost to his appeal as a future stallion.

Lees told RSN on Wednesday that he feels the 3-year-old has come back a bigger and stronger colt since his fifth in The Everest in October.

"I'm really pleased with how he has come back." - Trainer Kris Lees

"I'm really pleased with how he has come back. It’s new ground for him now going over 1000m down the straight of course, but he pleased in a jumpout," he said.


"This time last year we were thinking we were going to stretch him out to a mile in Queensland, but I think he's sharpened up as he has matured a touch. Physically, he looks more a sprinting type when you see him parade."

"I think he's sharpened up as he has matured a touch. Physically, he looks more a sprinting type when you see him parade." - Kris Lees

"He's still maturing mentally, he's still got a little bit to go from that perspective. He's a young colt and he can be a little bit playful. He's a very nice horse and I think he will run well Saturday."

The G1 Newmarket Hcp on March 9, a race Bell won with Schillaci 27 years ago, remains Graff's major target in Melbourne.

Time to return

In Her Time's last start was down the Flemington straight when narrowly beaten by Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega {Ire}) in the G1 VRC Spring Classic in November.

Her only clash with Graff was in the Everest where her stablemate beat her home by 1.8L on what was an unsuitably wet track.

Conditions are expected to be good on Saturday, and with that in mind, Lees is finding it hard to split the pair.

"There's not a lot between them at all. I’d be loath to say either way. She's proven at the highest level, she was very good down the straight last spring," he said.

In Her Time

"She won a Galaxy first up 12 months ago. She's very capable fresh and she's proven at the highest level, whereas he is the 3-year old coming through."

"There's not a lot between them at all. I’d be loath to say either way." - Kris Lees

"Where they meet on Saturday over 1000m, it's a little foreign for both of them. I couldn’t really split them."

Tommy Berry takes the ride on Graff and will jump from barrier 3, while Corey Brown is aboard In Her Time from barrier 1.

Their chief challenge on Saturday will be a 3-year-old brigade featuring the G1 Coolmore Stud S. winner Sunlight (Zoustar), the colt who beat Graff in the G2 Run To The Rose S, Lean Mean Machine (Zoustar) and last year's Blue Diamond S. winner Written By (Written Tycoon).

"I think it’s a really good crop of 3-year-olds that we’ve seen in the spring and I think they’ll measure up to the older horses this autumn," Lees said.

Star fillies back

Saturday shapes as a significant day for Lees, with Miss Fabulass (Frankel) resuming in the G2 Light Fingers S. having graduated from maiden company to win the G2 Tea Rose S. last time in.

Miss Fabulass

"She can be her own worst enemy," Lees said of the talented filly. "The Flight S. was the perfect example of that, she raced a bit fierce when she got exposed early in the race. We will be riding her pretty conservative there Saturday and she’ll hit the line very well."

Stablemate El Dorado Dreaming (Ilovethiscity), the G1 Sires Produce S. winner, also kicks her campaign off in the Light Fingers S, and both fillies will then head to the G1 Surround S. on March 2 and onto the G1 Coolmore Classic S. a fortnight later, according to Lees.