Lucia Valentina is still at the top of the Caulfield Cup odds after a faultless preparation leading up to the $3m Spring Carnival staying feature at Caulfield today and deserves to be at the top of the market order.
As internationals and locals dropped by the wayside with the scratchings of Dandino, Bande, Gris Caro and Dear Demi on Thursday and Friday, Lucia Valentina has held her spot at the head of the betting.
But Even though the Kris Lees trained mare eased slightly overnight, she is still the $4.20 clear cut favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au for the Group 1 $3m Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Lucia Valentina kicked off her Spring Carnival campaign with a win in the Group 2 $175,000 Tattersalls Club Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on September 6 followed by a sixth to Sacred Falls in the Group 1 WFA $350,000 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 20.
Lees then switched his attention to Melbourne which saw the Savabeel four year old sweep home from back in the field to beat Caulfield Cup rivals Lidari and Brambles in the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
The only box that Lucia Valentina hasn’t ticked is a win over the Caulfield Cup distance of 2400m, but Lees can’t see that as a problem.
At her only run at the distance she ran home from well off the pace to run third to New Zealand filly Rising Romance in the Group 1 $1m Seven News Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick earlier in the year during the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
“I suppose you can say she is still not proven at 2400m but I thought her Oaks run was a career-best effort, to be honest,’’ Lees told The Daily Telegraph.
“She got a long way back and made up many lengths to get third.’’
Lucia Valentina and Rising Romance will be facing off again in the Caulfield Cup at level weights again with two wins a piece from five meetings.
The Donna Logan trained Rising Romance and Lucia Valentina finished first and second in the Group 2 NZ$90,000 NZ Bloodstock Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on January 1.
Lucia Valentina was then able to reverse the result in winning the Group 1 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill in the Autumn with Rising Romance finishing fourth then the Australian Oaks saw Rising Romance back in the winner’s stall.
The two mares have met twice during the Spring Carnival with Rising Romance finishing fourth behind Lucia Valentina in the Tramway Stakes and then they were sixth and seventh in the George Main Stakes.
Lees is confident going into today’s race but admits Lucia Valentina will need a lot of luck in running to collect the major prize with Kerrin McEvoy likely to settle her in the second half of the field from barrier ten.
“This looks like most Caulfield Cups, a very high pressure race with plenty of chances,’’ Lees said.
“Luck in running is going to play its part so I’m happy with the barrier draw as it gives Kerrin (McEvoy) options at the start.
“She will be in the second half of the field but if she shows that turn off foot that we know she has, then I expect she will be in the finish.’’
Latest Caulfield Cup market order: $4.20 Lucia Valentina, $9 Brambles, $9.50 Junoob, $10 Admire Rakti, $13 Who Shot Thebarman, $14 Rising Romance, $17 Hawkspur, $19 Seismos, $21 Moriarty, Stipulate.