Despite trainer Kris Lees reporting his Caulfield Cup-bound mare Lucia Valentina being in good order for her latest run in the 2014 Turnbull Stakes this weekend, it has been revealed today the Group 1 winner is suffering a hoof problem.
The Savabeel four-year-old was floated down from her Sydney stables to Melbourne on Saturday night, arriving on Sunday morning, with Lees pleased with how she travelled.
Winner of the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) before a third to Rising Romance in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick last season, she returned to racing this time in on September 6.
She won first-up in a great effort on a mud track to beat fellow Group 1 winner Tiger Tees in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) when having a synthetic hoof filler in for the first time.
Last time out she looked on target for the bigger spring riches when sixth to Sacred Falls in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m), coming home late down the outside on a poor part of the track after getting stuck at the back.
Lucia Valentina is being prepared for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 and sits as the $10 second pick behind Japanese raider Bande ($9) to win the Caulfield showdown through Ladbrokes.com.au.
She is also the $5 firming favourite in the Ladbrokes markets for the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington Racecourse this weekend.
Jumping from barrier five with Kerrin McEvoy to ride, she faces a crack field in the showdown including Cox Plate-bound Happy Trails ($7.50) who won the race last year over Puissance De Lune who is also in the mix this weekend at a quote of $6.50.
However Lucia Valentina missed a track gallop this morning after a small abscess burst on her offside front foot Lees revealed on the Racing Network.
“I detected a pulse in the foot yesterday and we poulticed it overnight,” Lees said.
“We got a small amount of puss out of the area but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
Lees is convinced his bonnie mare will be right for Saturday however.
“Because of this I didn’t gallop her this morning, but she’ll be alright by Saturday,” he said.
Racing Victoria stewards were booked to inspect Lucia Valentina at 4pm on Thursday afternoon at the Caulfield stables of Ross McDonald where she’s residing.
Other big name Turnbull hopes this year include Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer for Gai Waterhouse and Roger James’s Kiwi mare Silent Achiever who was the champion of the autumn in Sydney.
Like many of her rivals, after the Caulfield Cup Lees is also considering a run in the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 with Lucia Valentina.
The shortest priced of the Turnbull hopes in futures Cox Plate betting are last year’s runner-up Happy Trails ($13) and Silent Achiever ($15).
Lucia Valentina meanwhile is at $41, Lees able to assess her chances in that and the Caulfield Cup better post-Saturday.
“She is probably my best chance in a major like a Cox Plate or one of the cups, but pressure is only what you make of it,” he told The Standard.
“If she is good enough, she will win it (the Turnbull Stakes).
“We are going to learn a lot more about her over the next few weeks and find out if she is the real deal.
“This is very stiffest test against these better horses on Saturday but she is getting out towards her best trip.”
As well as the 2400m of the Caulfield Cup being her pet distance, Lucia Valentina is also in the race with just 51kg which is part of the reason Lees secured McEvoy to ride her this preparation.
“In big races you need a lot of luck and things to go right,” Lees said.
“We are trying to control what we can and get her there in good order. Kerrin was part of that and we are happy to have him on the team.”
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