Lees feels the Groove to lift first Grafton Cup
KRIS Lees took his first Iron Jack Grafton Cup winner when Sixties Groove made a monumental push to win the $200,00 staying feature over 2350 metres at Grafton on Thursday.
Back in third-last around the final bend, jockey Jason Collett dug the heels in to see off Chris Waller hopes The Lord Mayor and Carsoff (FR) with a phenomenal push down the outside.
It was the seven-year-old former Irish galloper's eighth win at his 29th start, taking his prizemoney to $865,636.
It was also his first win since winning last year's 2400m Brisbane Cup and he was the first horse to carry 61kg since Mr Kelly won the 1936 Cup with 62kg.
Sixties Groove finished third in the similarly named Iron Jack W J McKell Cup at Rosehill last start behind stablemate Frankely Awesome, who was scratched for the carnival feature.
Stable foreman Lucas Miller was full of praise for Collett despite concerns about his position at the last bend.
"It was a phenomenal ride. Probably one of the best you'll see coming from that far back with that weight," Miller said.
"Finding a path through the middle wasn't easy and considering the weight he had he finished off quite well which is really pleasing."
Miller said Sixties Groove "has had some issues" since his Brisbane Cup win.
"Kris has done well to get him back," he said.
"That win was pretty incredible."
Jason Collett described the win as a "pretty good effort" as he also prepared to finish Grafton Cup Day with a second win on topweight Plague Stone in the Kirby Handicap.
Lees stablemate Big Duke was a former Melbourne Cup runner but Miller said the conditions just weren't suitable for him.
"He trucked into it like he was going to do something but he just doesn't level out that well on the firmer surface," Miller said.
Miller said the Lees stable will be eyeing some spring racing after some time off the track.
"They'll have some time between races now. There's not much for them but they'll be ready to dig in for spring," he said.
"They're older horses now, there's the races over the carnival in Sydney that will suit them."