Returning to racing in career-best form this time in, trainer Kris Lees is confident classy four-year-old mare Lucia Valentina is a “live chance” leading into the 2014 Melbourne Cup, despite being yet to appear competitively over two miles.
Claiming a commendable total of five wins and a further four minor places from just 13 starts so far, Lucia Valentina has already taken out two Group 1 feature races this year, however both over a short stayers distance of 2000m.
Conceding it is hard to tell whether or not a runner will perform well over two miles until trialled competitively, Lees said he is confident all signs point towards a successful tilt in the 2014 Melbourne Cup for Lucia Valentina after a credible run for third in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last time out.
“She’s a pretty good track worker … she’s pretty much up to the mark and she seems to be coping with all the racing and the extra work load,” Lees told Racing Ahead.
“Weight-wise, all the indicators are she’s come through it (Caulfield Cup) well, you never know until you send that back to the races but she’s ate well at the stable, weight’s maintained.
“She’s the same weight as what she raced at so all the indications are there but it comes down to whether she can run two miles.
“The way she’s finishing her races off, you don’t know how they’re going to handle two miles at that level until you try them but for mine she’s showing signs that she’ll run it out strong so I’m just hopeful.
Having saddled just one Melbourne Cup runner in County Tyrone in 2003 so far, Lees said he is enjoying the lead-up to this year’s edition of Australia’s headline race.
“I think it’s every trainer’s dream to have a Melbourne Cup runner and a perceived live chance this far out … really looking forward to it.”
Beginning her racing career under the guidance of kiwi trainer Stephen Marsh before transferring to the care of Lees at the beginning of the year, Lucia Valentina finished a fighting third in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) in her Australian debut on March 22nd, and while appearing to be outclassed when 12th in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) on March 22nd, responded in the best way possible when charging home to win the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m); returning to the paddock after finishing third in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m).
Winning the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) first-up this time, the Savabeel mare was unlucky to be blocked for a run and sixth in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) on September 20th but again responded well when taking out the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) in her only other start prior to the Caulfield Cup.
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