Feb 26, 2015
THURSDAY: February 26, 2015: CLASSY mare Lucia Valentina is a "bit fresher" as she attempts to turn the tables on Contributer at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
Lucia Valentina continues her Queen Elizabeth Stakes preparation in the $500,000 Group 1 wfa Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) against the impressive Contributer and the might of the Chris Waller stable. But her trainer Kris Lees certainly isn't underselling her chances.
Whilst Contributer grabbed everyone's attention by charging to victory in the wfa Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 14, Lees' mare Lucia Valentina's run could not be missed either. She made up a lot of ground from well back on the turn and came along inferior ground near the inside that day to finish fourth.
"The Chipping Norton is a race she can definitely win, but it won't be easy all the same," Lees said this morning.
"Lucia Valentina has drawn awkwardly and there doesn't appear to be a lot of speed.
"Contributer again looks the horse to beat because he should get an ideal run from a favorable draw.
"My mare is a bit fresher for this than when she was unplaced in the George Main (1600m) at Randwick last spring after winning the Tramway (1400m) first-up there on a heavy track."
Lees intends running Lucia Valentina next in the $500,000 Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 21 (Golden Slipper Stakes day). In a further three weeks, she tackles the "big one" - the $4m Group 1 wfa Queen Elizabeth (2000m) at Randwick on April 11.
Whilst Lees will be in Melbourne to saddle Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist for the first time at Caulfield, he will be strongly represented at Warwick Farm.
Here are his thoughts on his other runners:
ARTIBAI (Benchmark 83 Hcp, 2400m): "Has done really well since winning in Brisbane. Nicely drawn and the distance won't be a problem. Should run well. Has been nominated for the Sydney Cup (3200m), but needs to keep improving to warrant a start."
THUMP and SLOW PACE (Liverpool City Cup, 1300m): "Thump obviously looks the pick of my two runners going on her first-up win at Randwick a fortnight ago and I'm expecting her to run well again. But Slow Pace could surprise fresh. He just wasn't right in Melbourne last spring, and is going nicely this time in work. Could be a place chance at big odds."
HERA (Guy Walter Stakes, 1400m): "I thought she she could have gone a little better when resuming at Randwick a fortnight ago. Probably looking for 1600m."
VALID CONTRACT (Benchmark 80 Hcp, 1200m): "Has a chance, but this looks to be a pretty hard race."
Meanwhile, Lees is hopeful his talented young unbeaten sprinter Gold Seventy Seven, who sustained a tendon injury earlier in the week, will race again.
"As far as tendon injuries go, it's on the better side," Lees said.
"We're not sure at this stage whether he will have stem cell treatment.
"It's going to be a long process, but I'm hopeful we can get him back to the track at a later date."