A strong looking Lucia Valentina is impressing trainer Kris Lees with her pre-season work with the 2015 Apollo Stakes on Valentine’s Day scheduled for her resuming run.
The four-year-old Savabeel mare hasn’t raced since a disappointing 13th behind German stayer Protectionist in the ‘race that stops a nation’ – the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
She didn’t see out the distance of the famous two mile showdown and had her Newcastle-based trainer Lees concerned about how she would come through the run.
He need not have feared however with the $1 million earner looking fit and strong ahead of her next preparation.
“With Lucia Valentina, there was that concern we have got to the bottom of her after the Melbourne Cup run but she has strengthened nicely during her month off and is coming to hand nicely,” Lees told The Daily Telegraph.
Dual Group 1 winner, Lucia Valentina most recently won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) in early October.
After that she finished a brave third behind Japan’s Admire Rakti Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) narrowly beaten when under a length off the winner.
With her work now stepped right up Lucia Valentina is set to return to racing in a fortnight with Lees scheduling in the $250,000 Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on February 14.
The Apollo Stakes is also set as the first-up run for French-bound Kiwi super mare Silent Achiever who won the Ranvet Stakes – The BMW double last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign.
Also on the agenda for both mares is the season’s richest race, the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) back at Randwick on April 11.
Futures betting on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes is now open at Ladbrokes.com.au with Japan’s To The World leading the all-in markets at $5.
Lucia Valentina is also high up the odds at $13, equal with Silent Achiever and Chris Waller-trained dual Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Falls.
Also now prepared by Lees is Melbourne Cup hero Protectionist, the import to resume in the $200,000 Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield Racecourse on Blue Diamond Stakes Day, February 28.
Protectionist was an impressive barrier trial winner at Newcastle on Monday and will be aimed at either The BMW and/or the Queen Elizabeth Stakes this time in.
He will be joined in a possible Melbourne Cup rematch during The Championships by the Ed Dunlop-trained European Red Cadeaux.
A triple Melbourne Cup runner-up, the veteran stayer will be the first from Europe to race in Sydney since Top Class finished second to Our Poetic Prince in the 1989 edition of The BMW.
The $1.5 million Group 1 The BMW (2400m) runs in 2015 at Rosehill Gardens on March 28.
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