Lucia Valentina was one of the big winners of the 2014 Melbourne Cup barrier draw after drawing gate two and trainer Kris Lees believes that the inside gate will give the talented mare the best possible chance to run out a strong 3200 metres.
Lucia Valentina was caught wide in the early stages of the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and was forced to make a sweeping run right around the outside of the field, but was still able to work home strongly late to finish third behind Admire Rakti and Rising Romance.
The Savabeel mare will be stepping up to 3200 metres for the first time in her racing career, but Lees is hopeful that the step-up in trip will not prove an issue for the four-year-old and is confident that jockey Kerrin McEvoy will be able to settle the two-time Group 1 winner on the rail in the middle of the Melbourne Cup field in the early stages of the race.
“Two is alright for me,” Lees said.
“It gives Kerrin options and he is able to be a little positive out of the gate and hopefully hold a midfield type of run.
“It will give her every chance to run out the trip.
“We are hopeful that she will; she had the best closing sectionals at the end of 2400 metres and whether we can squeeze the extra mile out of her we will see.
“Horses that have a turn-of-foot now seem to be coming into these races more compared to the old dour sort of horse and that all comes down to how the race pans out.”
Lucia Valentina will be having the fifth race start of her 2014 Melbourne Cup campaign after she resumed with a fast-finishing win in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 6 and Lees believes that she is thriving on the amount of racing she has had this preparation.
The four-year-old was taken to Sandown for two trackwork gallops during the week and Lees is confident that Lucia Valentina is in outstanding physical condition heading into the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.
“She has come through each run in good order and she has taken a little bit of improvement we feel out of every run,” Lees said.
“She has had a couple of gallops out at Sandown and she worked quiet strong and she just had an easy morning this morning and she seems in pretty good condition.”
Lucia Valentina is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $7.50 and along with Protectionist, who will join the Lees stable after the Melbourne Cup, is on the second line of betting behind Admire Rakti ($5).