Trainer Kris Lees has confirmed that talented mare Lucia Valentina is likely to resume in the 2015 Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm on February 28.
Lucia Valentina was sent to the spelling paddock after she finished 13th behind new stablemate Protectionist in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 4, but she is now back in work and closing in on a return to racing.
Lees told Racing Ahead that Lucia Valentina could race exclusively at Group 1 level during the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and he has earmarked 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 for the daughter of Savabeel.
“She will probably start off in the Chipping Norton Stakes in Sydney or possibly the Apollo Stakes two weeks before that,” Lees said.
“It will more than likely be the Chipping Norton into the Ranvet and the Queen Elizabeth if her form warrants that, which I expect it will.”
Lucia Valentina won the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) as a filly during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and showed that she was able to take the step-up to open company during her successful 2014 Spring Racing Carnival preparation.
The four-year-old started her campaign with a fast-finishing victory in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 6 and had no luck in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at the same venue on September 20 before she returned to winning form in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
Lucia Valentina flew home late to finish an unlucky third behind Admire Rakti in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18, but did not appear to stay the trip in the Melbourne Cup.
Lees admits that he was concerned that the Melbourne Cup may have flattened Lucia Valentina, but said that he has been thrilled with the condition of the four-year-old since she returned from the spelling paddock.
“I am really happy with her,” Lees said.
“I was a little concerned whether the Melbourne Cup took too much out of her, but she had a month off and really thrived, so I am really pleased with how she is coming up.”
Lees is chasing his first win in the Chipping Norton Stakes after previously missing the placings with County Tyrone (fifth in 2007 and sixth in 2005).