Trainer Kris Lees is expecting a forward showing from his classy mare Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 $250,000 Optus Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday, but a win would surprise.
Lucia Valentina has won twice first up from three attempts, including a win in the Group 2 $175,000 Tattersalls Club Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick at the beginning of her 2014 Spring Carnival campaign.
But Lees pointed out that the dual Group 1 winning mare had two barrier trials leading up to the Tramway Stakes and this preparation she has only had one trial at Newcastle for a fifth over 900m on February 2.
“Last time she’d had two trials and found her preferred type of surface so they might be a bit slick for her at 1400m this time,” Lees told the Sportsman.
“She wasn’t put under a great deal of pressure in her trial and Hugh (Bowman) was happy with it so she is coming up well.”
What Lucia Valentina has is plenty of class and ability as well as a great turn of foot which Lees said is one of her greatest assets.
“What she does have is a good turn of foot and when you get into these weight-for-age races you need it,” Lees said.
“I’m expecting her to race well, it’s a really good race and she’s a backmarker, without having too high an expectation.”
Win, lose or draw Lees will expect the Savabeel mare to take a lot of benefit from the run for her future assignments during the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Lucia Valentina has been nominated for three Group 1s at Randwick for ‘The Championships’, the $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) on April 4, the first day and the $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and the $1m Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) on the second day, April 11.
Lucia Valentina has drawn barrier nine in the fourteen horse field with leading jockey Hugh Bowman re-uniting with the mare.
Bowman had three rides on her during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Carnival and as well as winning the Group 1 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill, collected two thirds in the Group 2 $175,000 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm and in the Group 1 $1m Seven News Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick.
Lucia Valentina is sharing favouritism at $6 with Expressway Stakes winner Weary, one of six Chris Waller trained runners lining up in the Apollo Stakes, and Godolphin’s English import Contributer with the Waller trained He’s Your Man close up at $6.50.