Jockey Damien Oliver celebrated his fifth Queen Elizabeth Stakes success and second Group 1 win on Day 2 of ‘The Championships’ aboard Kris Lees’ classy mare Lucia Valentina at Royal Randwick.
Oliver came into the autumn’s richest race with four previous victories in the weight-for-age Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival classic before making it five in the $4 million Group 1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Saturday.
His latest was aboard the Anthony Cummings-trained Road To Rock (2010) six years ago, his mount in this season’s edition Lucia Valentina jumping an $8 shot in betting at Ladbrokes.com.au second-up.
The five-year-old Savabeel mare came off a fourth in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) from March 12, a race that also produced Queen Of The Turf Stakes winner Azkadellia (2nd).
The Newcastle-based Lees was confident going straight into her pet distance today (2000m) with the four weeks between runs would suit Lucia Valentina, raced by the same connections as the Australian Oaks winner earlier on the card Sofia Rosa.
“A great result,” Lees said.
“It’s very rewarding when you set a horse for a race so far out.
“She was going to her pet distance of 2000m with four weeks between runs.
“That’s her career best.”
A $60,000 bargain buy, Lucia Valentina took her career earnings up over $4 million with her eye-catching last-to-first Queen Elizabeth Stakes victory.
She and Oliver settled at the back of the field as Awesome Rock, who made the field in the 11th hour as the first emergency after the scratching of Our Ivanhowe, went up to lead the field around on the outside of the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Easter Cup winner Leebaz.
Race favourite The United States meanwhile was travelling midfield searching for back-to-back wins after his victory in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) on March 19.
As they went around the turn, the reigning Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Criterion started to inch closer on the inside, his hoop Tommy Berry riding him for luck along the rails.
Criterion was quickly closed out and shoved back, while Lucia Valentina and Oliver were also having little luck in the run with a gap closing at the top of the straight.
The mighty mare picked herself back up however and raced to the lead showing off a brilliant turn of foot to hit the front 100m from the line, storming home for a slashing win.
She had room to spare over the beaten favourite The United States ($5) for Team Williams who crossed for second ahead of a brave Patrick Webster-trained Happy Clapper ($8.50) on the short back-up following his second to Winx in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) last Saturday.
“I’m on cloud nine,” a beaming Oliver said after the victory.
“I couldn’t go with her at all early. But if you just leave her alone, she’ll reward you late.
“At the furlong it was nearly all over.
“But she picked herself up again and just when whoosh!
“I went from the outhouse to the penthouse in about 200 metres.”
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2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 9 – 09/04/2016
|1||12||LUCIA VALENTINA (NZ)||Kris Lees||Damien Oliver||–||10||57kg||$8|
|2||5||THE UNITED STATES (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Kerrin McEvoy||2.3L||6||59kg||$4.60F|
|3||9||HAPPY CLAPPER||Patrick Webster||Brenton Avdulla||2.8L||1||59kg||$8|
|4||13||RISING ROMANCE (NZ)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Damian Lane||5.1L||5||57kg||$21|
|5||6||HAPPY TRAILS||Paul Beshara||Dwayne Dunn||5.9L||3||59kg||$51|
|6||7||IT’S SOMEWHAT (USA)||John O’Shea||Sam Clipperton||6.8L||9||59kg||$20|
|7||10||HAURAKI||John O’Shea||James McDonald||7.3L||12||59kg||$7.50|
|8||3||MONGOLIAN KHAN||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||Opie Bosson||7.5L||7||59kg||$26|
|9||8||DIBAYANI (IRE)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Nicholas Hall||9.6L||11||59kg||$51|
|10||14||FENWAY||Lee & Shannon Hope||Blake Shinn||10L||14||57kg||$31|
|11||1||CRITERION (NZ)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Tommy Berry||11.6L||2||59kg||$7.50|
|12||2||PREFERMENT (NZ)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||11.8L||4||59kg||$5|
|13||11||LEEBAZ (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Christian Reith||16.6L||8||59kg||$101|
|14||15||AWESOME ROCK||Leon & Troy Corstens||Stephen Baster||20L||13||59kg||$31|
|–||16||WEARY (FR)||Chris Waller||Craig Williams||–||0||–||–|
|–||4||OUR IVANHOWE (GER)||Lee & Anthony Freedman||Brett Prebble||–||0||–||–|