Lucia Valentina has a poor second-up racing record, but trainer Kris Lees is thrilled with the conditions of the talented mare and is confident she is ready to overcome that statistic in the 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick.
Lucia Valentina has been a standout for the Newcastle-based Lees since arriving in his care in the early stages of the 2014 Autumn Carnival, but is yet to finish in the first three in her second run through a total of five racing preparations.
Confident he has discovered the key to the mare performing to a high standard second-up, Lees told Racenet the classy daughter of Savabeel is picture of health leading into the 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes and believes she is capable of posting a big upset in the feature race on Day 2 of The Championships.
“I wanted to do something different with her coming into this race,” Lees said.
“If you look at her second-up and third-up records they are at opposite ends of the spectrum so I took that on board when building her preparation.
“She’s always gone second-up after two weeks so I decided I’d give her the four weeks between the first-up run and this Saturday with a trial in between.
“Previously when I’ve spaced her runs, into the Matriarch and Hong Kong, she’s performed well.
“I can’t fault her and she’s definitely going better than she was last year.
“With Winx not there, it looks an open race and it’s questionable how some of the better credentialed horses are going.
“She loves a soft track and she’s twice a Group I winner third-up so that’s what I’ve tried to replicate without giving her the extra race start.”
A two-time Group 1 winner, Lucia Valentina returned in spring for sixth in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) before finishing fourth amongst a small field in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m).
Failing to fire in either of the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) or Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), Lucia Valentina returned to winning form in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) before placing fifth in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) on December 13th.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2016 Hong Kong Cup odds, for which Lucia Valentina can be taken at a generous quote of $7.50 for success.