Trainer Kris Lees has been pleased with the condition of Lucia Valentina since her win in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes at Flemington, and is confident she will be competitive in the 2015 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 9th.
A two-time Group 1 champion, Lucia Valentina was unable to make much of a competitive impact through the early stages of the recent Spring Carnival; running eighth in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and ninth in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) leading into her return to winning form.
Lees told Racing Ahead the talented daughter of Savabeel has travelled well to Hong Kong and is ready for the 2015 Cup, but concedes she faces a big task in beating some of the world’s best 2000m horses.
“She travelled in good order, she drank plenty of water on the plane and has got there looking quite well,” Lees said.
“She’s pretty seasoned – it would be a similar time frame from my place to Caulfield as what she’s spent on the plane, so she’s handled it pretty well.
“Her main gallop was on Saturday morning before she left. She’s a mare that doesn’t take an awful lot of work. We’ll let her settle in this week and she may have a look around the course proper early next week.
“She’s lining up against some of the better horses in the world. On paper it looks a really tough race, but it’s at her pet distance and she’s raced herself back into some kind of form.
“I think she’ll be competitive but it’s a very tough race.
“It looks a race that will be run at a really genuine tempo which will suit her and I think that five weeks between runs for her – I think she’ll react really well to it.”
Stamping her claims as one to watch upon debuting in Australia for Lees during the 2014 Autumn Carnival, Lucia Valentina ran third in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) first-up, and while failing to fire in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m), responded in the best way possible with success in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and third in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m).
Returning that spring for an impressive win in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m), Lucia Valentina placed sixth in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) before winning the Turnbull Stakes and running third in the Caulfield Cup most notably.
Lucia Valentina remains at 2015 Hong Kong Cup odds of $15 for success with leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.