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Kris Lees’ four-year-old mare Lucia Valentina may not be favourite in the 2014 Melbourne Cup betting, that is reserved for Japanese stayer Admire Rakti ($6 at Ladbrokes.com.au), but it’s still hard for the trainer to relax ahead of the $6.2 million ‘race that stops the nation’.
“It is still a Melbourne Cup, so I think there’s a little bit of pressure around,” Lees told Racing Victoria.
Lees has had the heavily backed runner before with Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), in which she finished third, and would much rather give that pressure to someone else in the 2014 Melbourne Cup.
The mare found herself held up in the 2014 Caulfield Cup and had to come right to the outside to get a run in. She made a long sustained run and was the fastest finisher, not missing out on the win by very much.
Lees is thrilled with how Lucia Valentina has done since that race on October 18, and will be happy to see her back on the Flemington track, where she won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) two weeks prior.
“We were pretty confident going into Caulfield, but knowing full well that Caulfield may well be her downfall, just getting around that type of track,” Lees said.
“She’s been effective at Flemington previously and I’m sure she’s a better mare on the big spacious tracks.
“I’m pleased with how she’s prepared, it just now comes down to whether she can run the two miles.”
Lees has only had one other runner in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) – 15th place getter County Tyrone back in 2003 – but he still understands the magnitude of the race as well as trainers saddling their 12th or 19th horse in the race.
“It’s good and I’m enjoying it. It’s what you get up every morning for, to have a horse that’s good enough to compete at this level, so I’m taking it for what it is,” he said.
“It’s wonderful. It’s good to be a part of it regardless of the result. Just to be here and to think we’ve got a live chance is certainly exciting.”
Lucia Valentina will jump from barrier two in the 2014 Melbourne Cup – one of only a few horses who were hoping for an inside run. In such a big field like the Melbourne Cup, runners can often get caught on the rails but this mare performs much better from barriers 1-6.
She is on the second line of betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, with odds of $7.50 to win the ‘race that stops the nation’.
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