El Dorado Dreaming looks to Gong out of one-win club


“It is a club that you are kind of proud to be a part of, but also want to leave as soon as possible and she is every chance of doing it on Saturday.

“She is really good at the moment, but she will need to be as it’s a $1 million race.”

It is the first time El Dorado Dreaming has run outside of group 1 or group 2 company since her Sires’ success and she has always remained competitive.

That consistency has her equal favourite for The Gong with Luvaluva, which remarkably had her last win on the same day in the Adrian Knox Stakes on the first day of The Championships in 2018.

Since that day, El Dorado Dreaming has added group 1 placings in the Champagne Stakes, Surround Stakes and the Coolmore Classic. But she has also had her challenges.

“She is a tough mare and hasn’t really let us down,” Lees said. “She had a little throat problem and we have also had trouble with her feet, but when she is right I think she has shown she is one of the best mares in the country.

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“She is a backmarker so luck plays its part in her racing as well.”

Lees has had to be patient with the daughter of Ilovethiscity this spring. After a failure in the Theo Marks Stakes, he discovered she had feet problems again but got her back to her best when she resumed with a fast closing third to Reelem In Ruby in the Hot Danish Stakes at Rosehill two weeks ago.

“She has really improved from that run and I think the mile on the big track will suit her,” Lees said. “I was really happy to see her get the soft draw [of five] and I think she is capable of being a bit closer than usual.

“There looks to be plenty of speed in the race, which should help her being a backmarker. I think if the breaks go her way she will be hard to hold out.”

Lees has another two runners in the first running of The Gong and has put the blinkers on $51 chance Nicoletta, which has drawn terribly in gate 19 while Articus, a city winner and Cameron Handicap runner-up this spring, needs a dash of rain and luck from barrier 18.

“Nicoletta will push forward with the blinkers on and her fate will be decided early on,’’ Lees said.

“It comes down to whether she can get in. I don’t think she should be that price though. Articus is going well but in this sort of company he needs a soft track.”

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