Trainer Kris Lees has revealed that Hong Kong Cup fifth placegetter Lucia Valentina will likely have a light autumn campaign before connections decide whether she will head to the breeding barn or continue her racing career for another season.
Lucia Valentina produced a gallant effort to finish fifth behind Japanese star A Shin Hikari in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday and Lees confirmed that she would return to Australia after spending two weeks in quarantine before she heads to the spelling paddock.
Lees told Sky Racing HQ that Lucia Valentina will likely have a light autumn campaign, with the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) a likely target, and he said that if she maintains the form she has shown in the Hong Kong Cup and Matriarch Stakes that she would likely race on for another season.
“She will come back,” Lees said.
“She has to do four weeks in quarantine all up and we will give her a reasonably light autumn and then assess.
“If she is in form she will probably race another season, but if she doesn’t we might look to stud.
“Hopefully she maintains her form now – hopefully she has the consistency back in her racing and we can get another season out of her.”
Lucia Valentina started the Hong Kong Cup at big odds, but she found the line strongly in the final stages of the race to finish a credible fifth and be the first Australian-trained horse across the line.
Lees said that the hot early tempo in the Hong Kong Cup gave Lucia Valentina the opportunity to run into the prizemoney, but he admits that there was never any chance she was going to be able to catch the winner, who smashed the clock in taking out the Group 1 event.
“We were very proud of her effort,” Lees said.
“She ran fifth, but it was against some really world class horses and we were really happy with her performance.
“It was the fastest run Cup in the last 10 years, he was running 23 something for every sectional and he just kept going.
“It was set up for the backmarkers, but there was no chance they were running him down.
“Full credit to the winner.
“She needs that solid tempo because she has become a little one dimensional and when you are racing at that higher level if they are able to maintain that speed then we can’t pick them up.
“When they do go quick like they did on Sunday it gives her the opportunity to run into the money and against inferior competition she probably wins a race like that.”
Lucia Valentina is currently available at 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds of $51 with Ladbrokes, while Cox Plate winner Winx ($6) is a dominant favourite from last year’s winner Criterion ($9) and Hong Kong Vase winner Highland Reel ($10).