Lucia Valentina returned to winning form following a drought of more than a year in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 7th and trainer Kris Lees has confirmed the mare will progress to the 2015 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin in December.
A two-time Group 1 champion, Lucia Valentina returned to racing this time for sixth in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) on September 5th; progressing to fourth in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) on September 19th but only managing mid-pack results in each of the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) leading into the Matriarch Stakes.
Having reportedly taken plenty of benefit from a brief break and subsequent return to work, Lees told Racing Ahead he is thrilled with the condition of the talented daughter of Savabeel and is confident she will warrant her berth in the 2015 Hong Kong Cup.
“Her main gallop will be Saturday morning, but she had a week at the farm off the back of her Matriarch win,” Lees said.
“She seems to have freshened-up well and she looks in really good order.
“I think she’ll really appreciate that gap between runs like she appreciated the three weeks off the Caulfield Cup.
“She’s always been a mare who races a little better fresh and I’m under no illusions – it’s a very difficult race but I think she’ll acquit herself well.
“Damien (Oliver) will stay on her and I’m looking forward to seeing him back on her.”
Lucia Valentina appears likely to retire into a career as a broodmare halfway through 2016, but will be set for a race like the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in her final competitive preparation.
“I always thought she’d start off late in the autumn regardless and this will just confirm that,” Lees added.
“So she won’t get going until late in the autumn with a view of possibly pushing on to a race like the Doomben Cup in the early stages of the Brisbane Carnival.”
Beginning her racing career under the guidance of Stephen Marsh in her native New Zealand, Lucia Valentina immediately stamped herself as one to follow upon transferring to the care of Lees during the 2014 Autumn Carnival; winning the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and running third in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) most notably.