Top trainer Kris Lees eyes off a Shorty Cribb Aberdeen Cup start at Muswellbrook

A PERFECT barrier draw and a chance of showers might have swayed Kris Lees towards starting Group Three placed mare Rustic Melody in the Shorty Cribb Aberdeen Cup (1450m) at Muswellbrook on Sunday in preference to Rosehill on Saturday.

Rustic Melody had drawn barrier one in the cup as opposed to barrier six in the final race at Rosehill.

“The possibility of showers at Muswellbrook and the inside draw might sway me towards Muswellbrook but I won’t make a final decision until Saturday morning,” Lees said.

“She does like the cut out of the ground.”

Rustic Melody, to be ridden by Aaron Bullock if she goes to Muswellbrook, will be resuming off the back of two quiet trials but she does have first up form.

“She won the Provincial Championship at Hawkesbury last year first up but I don’t know that she is as wound up this time,” Lees said.

“I am happy with her though and depending on how she progresses through this campaign she may go to the Gold Coast in January.”

Warwick Farm trainer Gary Portelli is looking for a change of luck with Next Level with Alison Threadwell the new rider.

That follows the horse’s third in the Kayuga Cup, behind Puzzling Wonder, after trying to lead all the way. 

“I have had quite a few runners at Muswellbrook over the years but never had any success,” Portelli said.

“That third was probably my best result at the joint.

“The horse has done well since and has come on from that run.

“He has to lead and Alison has ridden for me on a number of occasions and I like the way she drives a horse through the line.”

Dubbo apprentice Chris Williams has retained the ride on Puzzling Wonder, which has been at Scone since his Muswellbrook win, spending a lot of time on the water walker.

“He is fit and does not need a lot of work,” trainer Mack Griffith said.

The Peter and Paul Snowden stable will have two runners at the meeting that honours Lyn Snowden’s late father, Shorty Cribb and her late brother, Greg Cribb.

The Snowdens will start the unraced Californiasurprise, a Wyong trial winner, in the Greg Cribb Memorial Red Crown Two-Year-Old and the unraced Avocado in the Power FM Three-Year-Old Maiden.

Both horses will be ridden by Winona Costin. 

The depth of the race has been increased with David Pfieffer to start the unraced Don’t Doubt Arthur with Josh Adams taking the ride.

The filly was impressive when never pushed out to run third in a Randwick trial behind Elessedil which then went on to win a two-year-old at Canterbury on Wednesday.