Trainer Kris Lees says he has Lucia Valentina in good order heading into the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday even though the mare has had a very light Autumn Carnival campaign.
Lucia Valentina will line up on the second day of ‘The Championships’ with only one lead up run under her belt but Lees says that this type of preparation is what the Savabeel mare thrives on.
“I couldn’t be happier with her,” Lees said.
“I think she going to the races in pretty good order.”
“She has had what we feel in the perfect preparation. She is going to turn up in good order and just needs a bit of luck in running and she will be very competitive.”
Lucia Valentina was sent for a break after running fifth to A Shin Hikari in the Group 1 HK$25m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 13 and has had only one lead up run plus a barrier trial heading into the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
With James McDonald in the saddle, Lucia Valentina made up plenty of ground in the straight to finish one and half lengths behind Peeping when fourth in the Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 12.
Lucia Valentina then ran second in a 1150m barrier trial at Newcastle on March 29.
“I think it is ideal for her,” Lees said.
“She has reacted very well a couple of times we have spaced her runs, she has had a nice trial in between.”
Damien Oliver is back on board this week and he knows the mare well after riding her to victory in the Group 2 $300,000 Presto Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival before partnering her in the Hong Kong Cup.
Oliver was very impressed with her Hong Kong Cup run and said the prospect of a soft track for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes will also enhance her chances.
“It was a great run to finish fifth and she beat home some high-class horses,” Oliver said.
“I thought she would have won a lot of Group One races on that run that day in Hong Kong.
“And that was on a firm track, so if she can bring that sort of form on a soft track she’s going to be right there.”
Lucia Valentina has visited the Group 1 winner’s stall on two occasions with a win in the 2014 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill as a three year old during the Autumn and then followed that up with win in the Spring in the $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
Lucia Valentina is well in the betting for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au offering $8 about her chances of winning her third Group 1.
Ranvet Stakes winner The United States sits at the top of the market order at $4.20 ahead of the Chris Waller trained Preferment at $5.50, last year’s winner Criterion at $6 and Hauraki at $7.50.
Queen Elizabeth Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.20 The United States, $5.50 Preferment, $6 Criterion, $7.50 Hauraki, $8 Lucia Valentina, $13 Happy Clapper, $17 It’s Somewhat, $19 Our Ivanhowe, $21 Rising Romance, $26 Dibayani, $31 Mongolian Khan, $51 Fenway, Awesome Rock, $61 Happy Trails, $101 Leebaz, $126 Weary.