Aug 21, 2015
NEWCASTLE: Friday, August 21, 2015: HUGH Bowman and Brenton Avdulla will be on hand to put “big guns” Protectionist and Lucia Valentina through their paces in Broadmeadow trials on Monday.
Trainer Kris Lees confirmed this morning that Bowman would partner last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist in the opening 1200m heat on the course proper, whilst Avdulla hops aboard Lucia Valentina in the third heat over 900m.
Lucia Valentina – last year’s Turnbull Stakes winner at Flemington and subsequent Caulfield Cup placegetter – was last night deservedly named NSW Provincial Horse Of The Year at the Racehorse Owners Association awards dinner in Sydney.
The Lees pair is scheduled to resume at Randwick on September 5; Protectionist in the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and Lucia Valentina in the Tramway Stakes (1400m).
Both are Group 2 contests but with different conditions. The Chelmsford is run at weight-for-age whilst the Tramway is a set weights plus penalties affair.
Lucia Valentina won last year’s Tramway on resumption leading up to her Turnbull victory and Caulfield Cup placing.
Lees is happy with the progress of both horses as they build up to Melbourne spring carnival assignments.
“At this stage, I’m planning to give Protectionist two runs in Sydney before he goes to Melbourne,” Lees said this morning.
“More than likely, he will also run in the Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick a fortnight after the Chelmsford.”
Like the Chelmsford, the Hill is also a wfa contest and carries a purse of $200,000.
Connections are naturally hoping a fit Protectionist will defend his “crown” in the $6m Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3.
Lucia Valentina’s target is the $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
Meanwhile, Lees has two runners at Randwick tomorrow – and Avdulla rides both of them.
Fine Bubbles contests the Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1200m) against her own sex, and Artibai runs in the Randwick City Mayor’s Cup (2000m).
“Fine Bubbles will be hard to beat if anywhere near her best,” Lees said.
“This race has fallen away a bit, and she has a soft draw.”
Lees is planning to give the mare her chance to win a second successive Group 3 Tibbie Stakes (1400m) on her home track on September 18.
“Artibai also has a favourable draw, and I’m expecting him to be hard to beat.
“He should have won at Rosehill at his last start and has done well since.”
Artibai was blocked for a run near the 200m and just failed to overhaulCampania – subsequently placed in yesterday’s Listed Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury – over 1900m on August 1.
Lees considers the imported stayer would need to win either tomorrow or at his next start to clinch a shot at the Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) at Broadmeadow on September 18.