The Armchair Punter has returned and is handing out the accolades

Stephen Brassel - Wednesday August 9

The 'real' Armchair Punter is back this week and I'm marvelling at the winning association Kris Lees has with Randwick while also delighted those who put in the effort to raise money for charity received some winning karma on Saturday.

After successfully trekking the Kokoda Trail it was business as usual for the jockeys on Saturday. Photo: Stephen Baster (Twitter)

KRIS LEES THE INVINCIBLE NOVACASTRIAN JUST LOVES RANDWICK

There's no argument Kris Lees is a star trainer but the Novacastrian certainly has a love affair with Randwick and made the track his own on Saturday with a winning double and the Missile Stakes quinella.

From six runners at headquarters on Saturday Lees provided winners with Invincible Gem and Wahng Wah but also finished second with Le Romain, Admiral Jello and Launch Code while his only 'failure' came in the form of long-shot Olympic Academy who finished well back.

Certainly Randwick has become the happiest of hunting grounds for Lees where seven of his eight Sydney Group I winners have been delivered.

Those winners were Le Romain (twice), Lucia Valentina, Samantha Miss (twice) and County Tyrone (twice) with the only 'foreign' Group I winner being Lucia Valentina in the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill.

PREMIERSHIPS SEE SOME NOTABLE PERFORMANCES GO VIRTUALLY UNNOTICED

The battles for jockey premiership honours in Sydney and Melbourne certainly petered out with Hugh Bowman and Craig Williams eventually winning by 4½ and four wins respectively but there were some interesting stats to emerge post season.

For instance, who finished third on the national jockeys' prizemoney list? First was Hugh Bowman on $18.86m, obviously impacted greatly by Winx then there was Melbourne Cup winner Kerrin McEvoy on $15.83m. As for third I had to have a good think and like many I probably got it wrong. Go to the bottom of the column to find out the answer on that one.

As for the trainer's again no surprises with Chris Waller on top with $26.145m followed by Darren Weir on $24.653 and the Hayes' and Dabernig yard finishing third on $19.646m but they came from 2028, 2686 and 1906 runners respectively.

The fourth placed prizemoney earning trainer only had 922 starters and finished with 173 winners. Who was it? Again see the result below.

KOKODA HOOPS REWARDED WITH WEEKEND WINNERS

There are plenty of times we bag jockeys for their performances on the track but on this occasion they get nothing but praise for their efforts in conquering the Kokoda Trail for charity last week.

Jockeys Steven Baster, Corey Brown, Kathy O'Hara and Hugh Bowman completed the 100km trek in just 3½ days along with Kris Smith as they raised money for the National Jockeys' Trust and the Mark Hughes Foundation.

It was only appropriate Corey Brown and Stephen Baster were rewarded with wins at Randwick and Flemington on Saturday while Kathy O'Hara only had the one ride at Randwick finishing down the track aboard Eximius while Hugh Bowman was an absentee through suspension.

Those still wishing to support the jockeys and Kris Smith on their Kokoda charity raising efforts can still donate at https://www.walking2help.com.au/

TOUGH START TO THE SEASON FOR OLLIE

Damien Oliver has had a tough start to the new season failing to find the placings in five rides at Sale on Wednesday and again at Flemington on Saturday but it won't be long before the champ is back on top.

Three of the five Flemington runners were specked in the betting including the highly regarded import Bondi Beach who firmed from $11 into $7.50 before weakening to finish second last behind stablemate Aloft.

However, in the case of the Robert Hickmott trained Bondi Beach Ollie was significantly impeded over the concluding stages with the saddle slipping on the gelding resulting in a kind ride to the line.

While all the focus was on stablemate Aloft in winning the race spare a Melbourne Cup thought for Bondi Beach who was beaten 5.7 lengths (under the slipped saddle) while in 2016 Almandin finished last in the same race, beaten 5.2 lengths before going on to win the Melbourne Cup.

Sportsbet have Bondi Beach at $41 in the Cup while Aloft is $34 and Almandin is rated a $21 chance of going back-to-back.

SO, WHO FINISHED THIRD?

It was Damian Lane who grabbed third spot on the jockeys prizemoney table with $12.226m, courtesy of four Group I winners, being Jon Snow (Australian Derby), Humidor (Australian Cup), Stratum Star (Kingston Town Stakes) and The Mission (Champagne Stakes).

AND WHO FINISHED FOURTH?

It was John O'Shea, whose 173 winners came at a strike rate of 18.8% with Group I winners Hauraki (Epsom), Astern (Golden Rose), Hartnell (Turnbull Stakes) and It's Somewhat in the Doncaster.

ANOTHER WAY TO LOSE - MAYBE IT WAS TRAVEL SICKNESS?

Abohar got an interesting mention in the stewards report after a dismal performance at Warwick Farm on Wednesday when finishing near enough to last when well supported.

Trainer Richard Laming told stewards; "the mare had experienced significant travelling over the last six starts and may have reached the end of its preparation."

Still, it was only one bad run and for the record Abohar's previous four performances, going back to May had resulted in a Gold Coast win, Warwick Farm fourth, Ipswich second and a Doomben win.

Prior to that she had raced at Eagle Farm a couple of times after a couple of runs at Pakenham and Sandown.

ONE TO FOLLOW

Rebellious Lord is only lightly raced and heading in the right direction with his second placings at Flemington on Saturday chock full of merit.

He was having only his fourth start and, burdened with 58.5kg was left to do the chasing work from the 600m before being exposed and eventually run down by Jaminzah.

Prepared by one-horse trainer Mark O'Donnell Rebellious Lord won his first two starts at his Warrnambool home base and since then has turned in two top runs to be placed at Flemington.

Stick with him, he's a horse with a very big future.

ONE TO FORGET

Show A Star went to the post as favourite for his Flemington assignment but the six-year-old compounded meekly when the blow-torch was applied in the straight.

He went out at $3.20 previously when second to Portion Control at his previous outing at Caulfield and on Saturday went out at $3.40 before wilting to finish six-length in arrears of Rhythm To Spare.

I dare say it will be a long while before punters load up with any great confidence on the gelding.
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