High Five For Lees As Spangler Spanks Provincial-Midway Rivals

By Ray Hickson

Kris Lees may have had weight of numbers on his side but he feels an element of pressure when it comes to the $500,000 Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championships Final (1400m) so there was a sense of relief when Spangler handed the Newcastle trainer a fifth win in the series.

And it was a quinella with stablemate Loch Eagle running into second in front of outsider Cross The Rubicon, trained by Brad Widdup.

Four of the 15 runners hailed from the Lees stable and it was a daring ride from James McDonald that guided the grey from near last early to post a runaway 4-3/4 length win - and he’ll now likely point the horse towards the $2 million Big Dance.

“We’ve got a big stable, we need to have horses in these races,’’ Lees said.

“It’s a great concept, it’s been well received. There are 60 people in that horse so it’s a great thrill.

“Hopefully we can see him back here. He ran second in a Ballina Cup so he could end up in a Big Dance. He appreciated the ground today to be fair, he’s got plenty of upside.”

Spangler will probably need to win a Big Dance eligible race to earn a spot in the November 7 feature as his second placing at Ballina doesn’t guarantee a place given the winners of the eligible races are placed at the top of the ballot.

The gelding only qualified for the Final at the last minute by running second to Loch Eagle in the Wild Card at Newcastle last month after contesting two other races in the series.

Spangler gave Lees his fifth win in the series, that for the second year includes Midway trained horses, and third straight following Kinloch (2022), Cristal Breeze (2021), Serene Miss (2018) and Danish Twist (2016) and the trainer praised McDonald’s steer.

“He qualified, just snuck in at Newcastle and thought well he’s looking for a mile to be fair to the horse,’’ Lees said.

“We went back, took our medicine early. Great James McDonald special through the pack and he really launched at them late, so pleasing to see.

“He drew 17 and next thing you know he’s third the fence coming to the corner, so it was a pretty good ride. It’s good to get one (a good ride) out of him (James McDonald).”

It was McDonald’s second win in the race, following Through The Cracks in 2020, and he said Spangler revelled in the conditions.

“He was there for me, I think he really enjoyed that ground,’’ he said.

“The way he let go, he could’ve done another lap the way he was charging through the line.

“Obviously he’s had the writing on the wall, a fit horse. It’s testing work out there, it’s really gluey but I had a horse that was there for me.”