Lucia Valentina has produced a career-best effort to win the featured 2016 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Day 2 of The Championships at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
A proven performer at the class and distance, Lucia Valentina was drawn awkwardly in barrier 12 and was forced to settle off the early tempo set by Awesome Rock and Leebaz after jumping only fairly.
Appearing blocked for a run and out of contention rounding onto the final straight, champion hoop Damien Oliver pressed the Savabeel mare wide before asking for an extra effort; Lucia Valentina responding with a monumental turn of foot to fly home and beat The United States and Happy Clapper to the line.
Oliver delivered a gem of a ride aboard Lucia Valentina to win the 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes but was quick to lay all the praise on the class of the mare and how she was presented by trainer Kris Lees.
“I’m on cloud 9, that was absolutely amazing!” Oliver said after crossing the line.
“She couldn’t go with them at all early, but if you just leave this mare alone early she’ll reward you late.
“Coming to the turn I had a lot of horse and not much room to go anywhere, and I went up in between a couple as we straighten and got shut out of that.
“I thought she’s going to have to be great to come back from this, but she picked herself up again and just when whoosh.
“At the furlong it was nearly all over. I went from the outhouse to the penthouse from the 400m to the 200m.
“Even going back further I had nice horses in front of me in Happy Clapper and Criterion coming to the turn but they sort of jammed up and weren’t looking like opening.
“It’s pretty amazing, you never get sick of it and I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
Lees was thrilled with Lucia Valentina’s return to winning form in the 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes second-up; a run that has been historically bad for the three-time Group 1 winner.
“It’s a great result, just very rewarding when you set a horse for a race so far out,” Lees said.
“Things can go wrong and she just got here in really good order, I’d be surprised if she didn’t run well but I probably didn’t expect her to go that well to be fair.
“She was going straight to 2000m, her pet distance and four weeks between runs. I had to doubt about her being effective second-up.
“She was slow away, she was two lengths last and did that once in the Tramway and picked herself back up.
“She was really effective late and has that wonderful turn of foot when she’s allowed to do that.”
Lucia Valentina has extender her record to an impressive seven victories and five minors through 27 competitive starts, in being crowned 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner.