Four-year-old Lucia Valentina had a successful spring campaign that included a win in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and minor placing in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m). After a well-earned break the mare is ready to step up her training for the autumn.
Lucia Valentina got a month off after running 13th to Protectionist in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (2400m). The mare missed out on a spot in the first ten despite being a single figure hopeful for the $6.2 million feature race. Jumping from barrier two, she was on the fence for much of the race. The mare kept saving ground to the 500m mark but didn’t manage to stay in the run home.
“She’s doing her second week of pre-training on the aquaziser, but she hasn’t had a saddle on yet,” Lees told Racing Network on Tuesday morning.
“She seems to have filled-out a bit but I’m looking at her right now and she looks terrific.”
The trainer mentioned the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 18 as a possible main target for Lucia Valentina but her autumn campaign is not set in stone.
“I don’t really know which races she will run in yet but it’s fair to say they will all end up in the Queen Elizabeth, it just depends on how we get there,” Lees said.
Former German-trained staying powerhouse Protectionist is now in the care of Lees after connections decided to keep the 2014 Melbourne Cup winner in Australia for the autumn.
He was beyond midfield one off the fence after jumping from barrier 10 and looked to peel to the outside when full of running. He switched course inside and once in the clear put a massive margin to win by four lengths.
Lees says Protectionist is “ticking along” perfectly with heaps of options in the autumn.
“I haven’t made my mind up when he will resume but there are a lot of options in the autumn for a horse like him who can stay,” he said.
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