Talented mare Lucia Valentina is set to return to racing in the 2015 Apollo Stakes at Royal Randwick on February 14 after she pleased trainer Kris Lees with her effort in a barrier trial at Newcastle this morning.
Lucia Valentina was given an easy time in the second barrier trial of the morning over 900 metres and she was kept wide by jockey Hugh Bowman before hitting the line fairly under a tight hold to finish fifth behind Allan Denham-trained Whisperossa.
Lees told Sky Racing that he has been thrilled with the condition of Lucia Valentina since she returned to trackwork after a stint in the spelling paddock and he confirmed that she would start her 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on February 14.
“She is really good,” Lees said.
“She has strengthened nicely off a month off.
“I was a little concerned that we had go to the bottom of her with the Melbourne Cup run, but she bounced out of it really well.
“She is about 20 kilos heavier than what she raced in the Melbourne Cup and she is holding that condition well.
“She comes to hand really easily and she hardly had a blow out of the trial.
“She will return in the Apollo in Saturday week.”
Lucia Valentina will likely return to the highest level of racing for the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on February 28 before she contests the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 21 and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 11.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy partnered Lucia Valentina throughout her 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign, highlighted by an impressive win in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), but Lees said that no jockey has been booked to ride the Savabeel mare during the autumn.
“No one has been locked in,” McEvoy said.
“Hugh came up to ride her in the trial and we will discuss that over the next week or two.
“The Carnivals are on top of each other in Sydney or Melbourne.
“We will just see what happens.”
Lucia Valentina is currently available at 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds of $13 with Ladbrokes, while Japanese star To The World ($5) is a narrow favourite from Cox Plate winner Adelaide ($6.50), Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist ($7.50) and German import Ivanhowe ($11).