Broadmeadow trainer Kris Lees has a ready-made contender for the Group 1 $400,000 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm on May 31 with Kiwi filly Hera.
The former New Zealand trained Hera will take the place of Lees other top class three year old filly Lucia Valentina who has been sent to the spelling paddock following a gruelling Sydney Autumn campaign.
Lucia Valentina was sent out the short priced $1.80 favourite for the Group 1 $1m Seven News Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick last Saturday but could only manage to run third to Rising Romance and Zanbagh.
“She’ll come back for the Spring and like all three-year-old fillies you hope they will measure up to the top grade,” Lees told Racing Network.
“One thing in her favour is she does have a very good turn of foot as she has shown here several times.”
While Lees has his sights set on the rich Spring racing for Lucia Valentina, he will test Hera out for Brisbane Winter Carnival campaign when she lines up for her first Australian start in the Group 3 $150,000 Bacardi Untimeable J H B Carr Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Lees had also nominated the O’Reilly filly for the weight for age Group 1 $400,000 Schweppes All Aged Stakes(1400m) but chose the softer option against the fillies in the J H B Carr Stakes.
“She’ll run in the Carr Stakes this week, it’s obviously an easier option,” Lee said.
“Her aim is the Queensland Oaks and she’ll run in the Doomben Roses on the way to the Oaks.”
Hera is a dual Group 2 winner in New Zealand and was purchased by Australian Bloodstock before being transferred to Lees’ stable in mid February.
“She was bought by Australian Bloodstock and she wasn’t a cheap filly,” Lees said.
Hera was immediately given the visitors draw for her Australian debut and will jump from gate eleven in the twelve horse J H B Carr Stakes field with Jim Cassidy to ride.
Lees took over the training of Hera after the filly won the Group 2 NZ$100,000 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 8.
Hera’s other Group 2 victory came two starts before in the Group 2 NZ$100,000 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on December 26.
Lees has trialled Hera once for a second over 1100m at Newcastle on April 14 and she will be coming up against some race fit fillies in the Peter Snowden trained Minature and Northern Glory from the Gai Waterhouse stable who finished third and fourth in the Group 3 $200,000 The Other Woman P J Bell Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 12.