A host of Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival stars are set to kick off their campaigns later this month at Royal Randwick in the Apollo Stakes 2015 with jockeys, including the overnight booking of Hugh Bowman for Lucia Valentina, taking shape.
Kris Lees’ Group 1 winning Savabeel mare Lucia Valentina is one of a host of top horses eyeing the $250,000 Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) on February 14 as the starting point for the autumn, the four-year-old to be ridden by Bowman for the first time since her Australian Oaks third last April.
That followed her maiden Group 1 win in the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill where she handled a Heavy (8) course, also with Bowman in the saddle, in her opening campaign down under.
She kicked off her career with Stephen Marsh in New Zealand, the Kiwi import going on to have a stellar spring that included another Group 1 win in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
Her other top run last time in was the third in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) when under a length off the ill-fated Japanese winner Admire Rakti before her failed 13th when failing to run out the two miles of the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday of November.
During the spring Kerrin McEvoy had the ride but Bowman will take over with McEvoy booked to ride an Apollo Stakes rival, Lucia Valentina heading towards a run in the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) back at the track on April 11.
As a precaution the mare will also be nominated for the $150,000 Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m) on Apollo Stakes Day, but the weight-for-age race is the preferred option.
McEvoy meanwhile secured the ride on Hallowed Crown in the Apollo Stakes first-up, connections of the Bart & James Cummings-trained Street Sense colt opting to bypass the $150,000 Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) this weekend at Rosehill in favour of Saturday week’s Group 2.
A super-consistent youngster, Hallowed Crown has won four of his five career starts to date including most famously the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in mid-September.
His last start was a fourth to Brazen Beau in the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) when back to a sprint distance after the elite level win on October 4.
He trailed on February 2 and looked on track for a nice return when running under a length away third behind the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Caulfield Guineas winner Shooting To Win in the 1000m hit-out at Randwick.
Bowman partnered Hallowed Crown in both the Golden Rose and Roman Consul, but a jockey swap sees him on the mare and McEvoy on the progressive colt who stays in Sydney this autumn targeting the $600,000 Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 7.
Another headline Apollo Stakes runner will be Roger James’s Kiwi mare Silent Achiever, the six-year-old’s long term plan this year being a trip to France for October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
James is still very much up in the air in regards to an Apollo Stakes jockey decision for the daughter of O’Reilly, last seen running third to Adelaide in the Cox Plate.
Her Cox Plate hoop Nash Rawiller, also aboard when Silent Achiever ran fourth in last year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes behind It’s A Dundeel, is the preferred option but his booking will rely on his Hong Kong riding commitments.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest on the Apollo Stakes and other autumn races attracting the season’s top horses.
In the meantime head over to Ladbrokes.com.au and check out the futures markets on the upcoming Group 1s like the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes where Lucia Valentina and Silent Achiever both pay $13 to win.
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