Trainer Kris Lees has confirmed that the 2015 Cox Plate will be the major spring target for talented mare Lucia Valentina.
Lucia Valentina has not been seen at the races since she finished a credible sixth behind Criterion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 11, but is back in work and is set to return to the races in just over a month.
Lees told RSN that the Group 3 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 5 will likely be the first-up target for Lucia Valentina and he said that she will progress towards the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24 if she proves competitive at weight-for-age level.
“She does come to hand reasonably quick and she will more than likely resume in the Tramway – the race she won first-up last preparation,” Lees said.
“Hopefully if she is up to her best I would like to see her in the Cox Plate if possible.
“She will be nominated for the Caulfield Cup as well, but I imagine that the Cox Plate path would suit her and which way we get to that race I still haven’t decided.”
Lucia Valentina won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and finished an unlucky third in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival, but she did not run out a strong 3200 metres in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and she was unable to record a race win during her 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign.
Lees said that Lucia Valentina was just a length short of her best in races like the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 The BMW (2400m) in the autumn, but he is hopeful that the rising five-year-old will be able to return to her best form during her spring preparation.
“She was very good in her four-year-old season in the spring, but she was racing at handicap and set weights level in the autumn and in the autumn she went to weight-for-age level,” Lees said.
“She might have just been a length behind them or below her best, but I think that now she is a little more seasoned she is in for her best.
“If she can perform at weight-for-age level I think that the mile and a quarter is the best distance for him.”
Lucia Valentina is currently available at 2015 Cox Plate odds of $26 and will have the chance to deliver Lees his first win in the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship after he finished third with star filly Samantha Miss in 2008.