Group 1 winning mare Lucia Valentina is enjoying a short break at her Ellalong spelling property before trainer Kris Lees embarks her on a second Queen Elizabeth Stakes campaign during ‘The Championships’ at Randwick.
Lucia Valentina has spent two weeks in quarantine in Hong Kong and another two weeks at the Werribee International Horse Centre after finishing a respectable fifth to Japanese galloper A Shin Hikari in the Group 1 HK$25m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 13.
Lees will keep the Savabeel five year old at Ellalong for a week and a half before preparing her for the Autumn Carnival with the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 9 her main target.
“Lucia Valentina arrived home from Werribee earlier in the week, and has gone to Ellalong for about 10 days before returning to Broadmeadow,” Lees said.
“She will do some exercise whilst there on the aquaciser (water walker).”
Lucia Valentina is the winner of two Group 1 races, the 2014 Group 1 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill and the 2014 Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington, but Lees rates her Hong Kong Cup fifth as one of the best effort of her career.
“I’m very proud of the way she handled the entire assignment and, of course, how well she ran,” Lees said.
“One of her best career runs.”
“She ran fifth, but it was against some really world class horses and we were really happy with her performance.
“It was the fastest run Cup in the last 10 years, he was running 23 something for every sectional and he just kept going.
“It was set up for the backmarkers, but there was no chance they were running him down.
Lucia Valentina finished fifth to Criterion in last year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes and is likely to use the Group 1 $1m George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 19 as one of her lead up races as she heads towards ‘The Championships’.
In early betting for the 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au, Lucia Valentina is marked at $51 with 2015 Cox Plate winner Winx heading the market order at $4.60 ahead of Criterion at $11.
The Aidan O’Brien trained Highland Reel, the winner of the Group 1 HK$16.5m Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin, is also marked at $11 along with 2015 Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan.