14 classy horses are set to tackle the $250,000 race, including the likes of Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) winner He’s Your Man, Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) winner Weary, John O’Shea’s Contributer, and Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) winner Lucia Valentina.
The Kris Lees-trained mare came into her own last spring, winning the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) and Turnbull Stakes before finishing third in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m). She then proved two miles wasn’t her preferred distance, finishing 16 lengths behind Protectionist in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The Tramway Stakes was Lucia Valentina’s only win over 1400 metres and Lees is concerned the trip may be too short for the mare.
“She’s bright and ready to go back to the races, but I suspect this may be too short for her,” Lees told Racing Network on Friday morning.
“She’s a backmarker so that won’t help her in this race as there appear to be a lot of stayers in the race who will be going back at the start.
“It’s a strange race because of that, but she is in very good order.
“Her trial the other day (Newcastle, February 2) was terrific.”
Despite Lees’ concerns, Lucia Valentina is on the second line of betting for the Apollo Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au, offering odds of $6 alongside Contributer.
The mare is set to jump from barrier nine with Hugh Bowman. Lees will be happy if she can run on in the end of the race.
Following the 2015 Apollo Stakes, Lucia Valentina will head towards the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on February 28.
“She’ll go to the Chipping Norton after Saturday all being well,” Lees said.
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