Group 1 winning mare Lucia Valentina gets her chance to find the winner’s stall again and has been installed the favourite for the Group 2 $300,000 Presto Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
Lucia Valentina is a winner over this course and distance when she won last year’s Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and has been posted as the $4.60 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au.
And even though the Savabeel mare hasn’t won a race since, trainer Kris Lees is happy with her form going into Saturday’s race against the mares.
“I am very happy with her,” Lees told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“It is fair to say that she is just a bit below where she was this time last year but drop back to mares’ company certainly gives her a chance to race herself back into form.”
“I thought (her Caulfield Cup run) was satisfactory. She went back to last from the gate. She made steady ground without ever threatening, I thought the run was okay.”
Lucia Valentina showed glimpses of her best form at her second run in with a late finishing fourth to Kermadec in the Group 1 $500,000 Colgate Optic White George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 19.
Then at her latest outing she made up some ground in the straight when ninth to Mongolian Khan in the Group 1 $3m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 17.
Lucia Valentina will have to overcome a wide barrier but will appreciate the wet track conditions after Flemington was drenched on Crown Oaks Day on Thursday with the track still rated a heavy 8 on Friday.
“She will certainly appreciate the soft ground. She still has to overcome that wide alley but the track seemed to race a lot fairer with the wet weather around,” Lees said.
Lees will leave the riding tactics up to big race jockey Damien Oliver who will be having his first ride on the five year old mare.
“I will leave it to Damien but she will be back in the field. She has to be ridden a little cold in the early stages and she races a lot better ridden that way, but I will leave that to Damien,” Lees said.
“She is very well placed under the set weights and penalty scale. She still has to carry the fifty-nine and a half through the heavy ground, but I am pretty pleased with where she is at.”
Lees will also saddle up $34 outsider Oriental Lady in the Matriarch Stakes and the Doyen mare was also out of luck at the barrier draw, coming up with gate eighteen and will jump from the outside of the field.
Queensland jockey Damian Browne takes over from Oliver who rode Oriental Lady last start when third to Imperial Lass in the $100,000 Jeep Handicap (2040m) for the fillies and mares at Moonee Valley on October 23.
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Matriarch Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.60 Lucia Valentina, $5 Ballet Suite, $9 Zarzali, Manageress, $10 Ungrateful Ellen, Pandarosa Miss, $15 Casino Dancer, Imperial Lass, $21 Thunder Lady, No Tricks, $26 Sure You Can, Lady Cumquat, $34 Oriental Lady, Inishowen, Long Face Grace, Holy Cow, $41 Spanish Love, $51 Ring Da Belle.
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