Former Kiwi trained filly Lucia Valentina cemented her place as favourite for the Australian Oaks with an impressive win in the Group 1 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill today.
Lucia Valentina was having her third start for Broadmeadow trainer Kris Lees and come from last on the home turn to run down the leader Solicit in the last fifty metres.
Lees now has two weeks to keep the Savabeel filly at her top as he prepares her for the Group 1 $1m ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on April 19.
Lucia Valentina commenced her racing in New Zealand under the care of Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh before owner Lew Patagna sent her over to Lees with the Australian Oaks in mind.
“I have to thank Stephen Marsh, he sent her over in terrific order and very happy to train her,” Lees said.
Lees had full confidence with Hugh Bowman who had Lucia Valentina out the back after striking some trouble at the start but when the top Sydney jockey cut the corner and scooted up the inside, he was always a chance of running down the leader.
“There is no better riders of stayers than Hughie so I’ll stick with him,” Lees said.
Chad Schofield rode a heady race in front on Solicit ($6.50) and slowed the pace in the middle stages before letting the Melbourne filly skip away in the straight but couldn’t hold off the strong finish of Lucia Valentina ($9.50) who scored a comfortable one length win.
Third placegetter Forever Gold ($31) was a further five lengths away in third spot.
The Guy Walter trained Zanbagh was sent out the $5 favourite but Blake Shinn was stuck out three wide worse than midfield and the Bernardini filly struggled into fifth place, six and half lengths from the winner.