A standout performer over major events through the 2014 Sydney Autumn Carnival, trainer Kris Lees has revealed Group 1 champion mare Lucia Valentina is on track for a return to racing in August after an impressive performance in a Newcastle barrier trial on Monday morning.
Contesting just four starts over autumn, the Savabeel mare displayed a keen turn of foot to run on for third in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) first-up on March 8th, however appeared to lack the necessary step up in class when 12th in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) a fortnight later.
Charging home to break through for a maiden Group 1 victory in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on April 5th, Lucia Valentina continued to impressive when overcoming poor conditions and less-than-ideal running position when third in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) most recently on April 19th.
Eyeing either of the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) or Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1300m) at Royal Randwick on August 23rd as Lucia Valentina’s likely return to competition, Lees told TVN that while finishing off the pace of the trial’s leaders, he is pleased with the rising four-year-olds building form.
“She trialled well along with Hathras and they were probably beaten about five lengths. They were both on the bridle and did it well,” Lees said.
“She’ll have another trial in two weeks.
“She’s still a month away from the races so we’re on target.”
Contesting an impressive total of three wins and three minor places from just nine competitive starts so far, Lucia Valentina began her racing career under the guidance of Kiwi trainer Stephen Marsh in the spring of 2013; finishing her maiden racing preparation with an unlucky run for second in the Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m) on January 1st before transferring to the care of Lees.
Appearing in early betting markets for the nation’s major races through the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, Lucia Valentina is currently available at generous odds of $21 for success in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25th; sharing the sixth line of betting with five possible opponents.
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