Newcastle horseman Kris Lees has confirmed connections will travel dual Group 1 winning mare Lucia Valentina to Sha Tin Racecourse for next month’s International Race Day should she secure a Hong Kong Cup 2015 invitation.
A winner of six of her 24 starts to date for over $1.5 million in prize money, the five-year-old daughter of Savabeel is best known for her two elite level wins in last year’s Vinery Stud Stakes and Turnbull Stakes.
Third in the Caulfield Cup over the mile and a half last year also, Lucia Valentina broke a notable winning drought at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day last Saturday taking out the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m).
While she still officially holds a nomination for Perth’s $1 million Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot Racecourse on December 5, it is the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) on December 13 Lees would ideally love to test her in.
For her drought-breaking Matriarch Stakes win Lucia Valentina was ridden by ace Melbourne hoop Damien Oliver who will be offered the ride in the Hong Kong Cup if she makes it to Sha Tin for the classic.
While many other Australian-trained gallopers have enjoyed success in the three other Group 1 Hong Kong International Race Day features in recent years, the Hong Kong Cup hasn’t been won by a horse from down under since State Taj who Oliver guided to victory 21 years ago.
“We’ll wait and see what they say but we’d definitely go at this stage,” Lees told AAP this week.
“Damien has been offered the ride.”
Lucia Valentina is already back at Lees’ Broadmeadow base having pulled up well from her latest run.
Another in-form mare heading towards a hopeful Hong Kong Cup run this summer is the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Rising Romance.
Winner of the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) in Sydney last year, the Ekraar five-year-old was last seen running second to Gailo Chop in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Derby Day.
She races again this weekend in the weight-for-age $300,000 Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) over the mile and a half and pays $3.50 as the second pick behind last weekend’s Queen’s Cup winner Dandino ($3.10) through Ladbrokes.com.au to take out the Sandown feature.
This year 14 Australian-trained runners were nominated for the Hong Kong Cup with the other most notable hope being Rising Romance’s Melbourne Cup placed stablemate Criterion who ran third to upset 101/1 winner Prince Of Penzance in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) makes the announcement regarding overseas invitees on November 25 so stay tuned.
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