Lucia Valentina appears on track for the 2014 Melbourne Cup after she produced a strong piece of trackwork at Sandown this morning.
Lucia Valentina was given a quiet week following her fast-finishing third behind Admire Rakti and Rising Romance in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18, but trainer Kris Lees elected to give the Savabeel mare a testing trackwork gallop over 1600 metres as he ramps up her preparations for the Melbourne Cup.
Lees was full of praise for the Sandown surface and he told TVN that he is confident Lucia Valentina is on track to step-up to 3200 metres for the first time in her racing career in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington next Tuesday.
“I’d say it would be just about the best surface in Australia to work on,” Lees said.
“This was her first more serious gallop since the Caulfield Cup and she relished the beautiful Sandown surface.
“She worked over 1600m and finished the last 600m in 37 seconds and change.
“Kerrin (McEvoy) is very happy where she is at and we are looking forward to next Tuesday at Flemington.”
Kerrin McEvoy was booked to ride Lucia Valentina at the start of her 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign and he has developed a strong relationship with the four-year-old after he steered her to victory in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 6 and the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
The leading hoop did not produce his best ride on Lucia Valentina in the Caulfield Cup and she was forced to make a long, sustained run in the final stages of the race, but McEvoy said that the two-time Group 1 winner did not appear to be dealing with any ill effects from her tough run just over a week ago.
“She doesn’t feel like a mare who has had a tough run in a Caulfield Cup,” McEvoy said.
“I’d like to think she is going in to next week in top shape.
“Fingers crossed we might be able to get a touch of rain to soften the track up because we all know how much she likes the sting out of the ground.”
Lucia Valentina is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $7.50 and she is on the third line of betting for the Group 1 event behind Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti ($4.80) and German stayer Protectionist ($7).