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October’s Cox Plate 2015 at Moonee Valley Racecourse is the ultimate Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival assignment for Kris Lees’ dual Group 1 winning mare Lucia Valentina.
Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) runs this year on October 24 and after a Melbourne Cup bid last spring, Lucia Valentina is targeting the shorter-distanced feature this season.
Last spring Lees’ daughter of Savabeel resumed racing at Randwick winning the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) in a last-to-first effort in the wet, the $175,000 feature on September 5 the first-up target again for her this time in.
Her Tramway win last year was followed by a host of top runs including a Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) success at Flemington in early October and her third to the ill-fated Japanese stayer Admire Rakti in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Lucia Valentina also went on to run in the world’s richest handicap on the first Tuesday of November, but she only managed to run 13th to Protectionist in the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) over the two miles.
After shooting for back-to-back Tramway Stakes wins this spring, the rising five-year-old will continue on her way to the Cox Plate, early odds at Ladbrokes.com.au for which have her installed as a $26 shot.
Lees is confident his $1.2 million earner can hold her form over her campaign after a so-so autumn that was headlined by a third behind Contributer, current $9 co-favourite with Hong Kong’s Able Friend in all-in Cox Plate betting, in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m).
“I couldn’t be happier with her, she’s shown the same zest for racing in her work, she’s really keen,” Lees told Racenet.
“She’s only rising five and has performed at a high level.”
Her latest run was a sixth to Criterion, $10 second elect for the Cox Plate this time in, in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in April, a run Lees is hoping she can improve on first-up.
He isn’t overly stressed however if she isn’t tracking well enough for a Cox Plate run, saying there were a number of other Group 1 options for the classy mare.
“The target would be the Cox Plate but of course, there’s no better race in Australia so if she’s not quite up to that level we’ll drop her back a peg,” he said.
“She just might have been a length below in those weight-for-age races in the autumn but I think she’ll be a lot better in the spring.”
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