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Kris Lees’ talented mare Lucia Valentina is going great guns according to her trainer ahead of her 2015 Apollo Stakes return in Sydney on Saturday.
A four-year-old daughter of Savabeel, Lucia Valentina takes on a field of 15 in the $250,000 Group 2 Optus Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick this weekend.
Drawn in barrier nine for Hugh Bowman, she comes off just the one official trial when she didn’t cause too much of a fuss running fifth over 900m at Newcastle on February 2.
Lees was pleased with the hit-out at her home track, and also with the solid work she did on Saturday also at Newcastle.
“She’ll have another workout tomorrow (Wednesday) but I was happy with the work she did on Saturday,” Lees told Racenet yesterday.
“She’s terrific, pretty fit. She an athlete that doesn’t carry much condition, comes to hand quickly but there’s also a bit of improvement in her.
“I think she’s a stronger horse this preparation, whether that means better is another thing but all the signs she’s giving me are good.
“She’s a proper racehorse and I expect her to run well.”
Lucia Valentina hasn’t raced since finishing 13th to her now stablemate, German import Protectionist in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington last November rounding out an exacting spring campaign.
Before that she was on fire winning the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington before her brave third when under a length off the winner Admire Rakti in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
She boasts an imposing first-up record of two wins and a third from three previous runs when resuming, and is also a previous winner over the Apollo Stakes track and distance having won the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) in the mud last September.
Having ridden her in her trial, Bowman stays on for Saturday taking over from her regular rider during the spring Kerrin McEvoy who is engaged to partner her Apollo Stakes rival, New Zealand mare Silent Achiever jumping one on Lucia Valentina’s inside.
Other headliner acceptors in the Apollo Stakes field this weekend include six for Chris Waller led by his Epsom Handicap winner He’s Your Man in barrier seven and Gerald Ryan’s in-form Red Excitement after his sixth straight win but drawn out wide in barrier 14.
Lees admitted the Apollo Stakes had attracted a “strong group” of gallopers but hopes for a late downpour in Sydney to help the proven wet-tracker take them on.
“She won the Tramway on a bog and everyone knows wet tracks don’t stop her so it wouldn’t bother us if the rain arrived,” he said.
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