Kris Lees worked 2014 Melbourne Cup hopeful Lucia Valentina at Sandown on Tuesday. Happy with the result, the trainer is quietly confident his mare is in with a chance for the ‘race that stops the nation’.
While the four-year-old is already a dual Group One winner and ran well last time out in the Caulfield Cup, winning the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup is something entirely different.
However Lees managed to make it seem simple, as he compared it to his hometown cup.
“I have probably got a better chance of winning a Melbourne Cup than I have ever had of winning a Newcastle Cup,” Lees told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Horses like her don’t come along that often, so when they do come along you have to make the most of them.”
Lucia Valentina has yet to run past the mile and a half distance of the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) but this may be the only chance Lees has of running her in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Lees organised a gallop on the testing course proper at Sandown on Tuesday, in which she proved successful, continuing to have the zip in her legs that made her unstoppable this spring.
“There is a decent hill to finish the gallop and she was strong at the end, which is just her,” Lees said.
“She was nice and sharp, and her action was good.
“It was perfect ground for them out there and it has been a good exercise coming here. It was a good day out without being too taxing.”
The trainer said he is happy to slip under the Melbourne Cup radar with the mare, however she’s still attracting plenty of attention in the betting. She’s on the third line of Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au – a $7.50 chance – behind only Protectionist ($7) and Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti, the favourite at $4.80.
Lees is aware the zip in Lucia Valentina’s legs is her advantage over many of the other Melbourne Cup runners, and will not risk it by working her too hard.
“What I don’t want to do is take that speed out her legs,” he said.
“I want to have her ready for two miles and just have her sharp enough to show that dash, which she has always had.
“She always runs the best final sections in her races and she did that [at] Caulfield and was closing again on the line.
“We don’t have to do a lot with her because she keeps herself pretty fit, so we keep her ticking over now until next week.”
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