Newcastle’s Kris Lees this week confirmed plans to run his Group 1 winning mare Lucia Valentina first-up in the Warwick Stakes 2016 on way to a Cox Plate bid in Melbourne.
A winner of over $4 million in prize money to date from 27 career starts, Savabeel five-year-old Lucia Valentina was last seen posting her third Group 1 success in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in early April.
Her earlier elite level victories came in the 2014 Turnbull Stakes and Vinery Stud Stakes, proving her longevity as a big player for the Lees’ stable.
Last spring Lees kicked Lucia Valentina off in Sydney’s Tramway Stakes, and she will again race in her home state first-up this coming campaign before heading to Victoria to chase the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival riches.
He has pencilled in the $250,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on August 20 for her resuming run.
Lucia Valentina returned to Lees’ Broadmeadow stables this week following a seven week stint at Ellalong Farm near Cessnock.
For the past two seasons Lees has run his star mare in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) over the mile and a half.
She placed a brave third to Admire Rakti in the 2014 edition on the back of her Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) success at Flemington, but could only manage a ninth to Mongolian Khan in the race last October.
After backing up from that to win the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Lucia Valentina travelled overseas and ran fifth in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
It is that distance Lees plans to keep her to this spring naming the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 22.
That will be followed by a possible shot at the new-look Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on the first Saturday of November.
Chris Waller’s defending Cox Plate champion Winx is the clear $3 favourite in pre-nomination betting for this year’s race at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Tavistock four-year-old Werther ($13), previously prepared in New Zealand and Australia before a move to Hong Kong this year where he has enjoyed great success including the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby – QEII Cup double over 2000m at Sha Tin, is the next best fancied.
Lucia Valentina then occupies the third line of futures Cox Plate odds at $17, equal with Japanese raider Maurice and star New Zealand colt Xtravagant.
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