Oct 13, 2015
NEWCASTLE: Tuesday, October 13, 2015: KRIS Lees has confirmed two Caulfield Cup representatives, and an important gear change on Protectionist.
Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner will race in winkers in Saturday’s $3m Cup (2400m), in which he will again be ridden by Brenton Avdulla.
And Lees has also given the go-ahead to line up Lucia Valentina for a second successive year in the Group 1 feature.
Lees galloped both horses separately at Caulfield this morning before flying back to Newcastle.
“Lucia Valentina galloped over 1400m with Set Square on the course proper, and I was very pleased with her,” he said.
“It was a good, solid piece of work and I feel the Caulfield Cup is the right option for her, especially dropping back to 53kg.
“It’s the lightest she has carried since finishing third in this race 12 months ago.”
Dwayne Dunn will be a new rider for Lucia Valentina on Saturday, but travelling foreman Mal Ollerton partnered the mare in this morning’s workout.
“Mal obviously knows her well, and I wanted to make certain he felt she was ready to go on Saturday before confirming her a starter.”
Kerrin McEvoy, who rode Lucia Valentina when third (with 53kg) to Admire Rakti in last year’s Cup, was aboard Cup rival Set Square when the two mares galloped this morning.
Lees announced last week he would remove blinkers from Lucia Valentina in Melbourne. She wore them when a disappointing eighth to Winx in the $1m Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 3.
“Albeit she failed in the Epsom compared with winning the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last year, I feel she is in a similar vein,” Lees said.
“Her work has certainly been as good as it was last spring.”
Lees mixed Protectionist’s work up this morning. He went three-quarter pace on the sand track before galloping on the course proper.
Lees explained his decision to put winkers on the former German stayer is designed to “hopefully sharpen him up”.
“He galloped in winkers this morning, and his work was good,” he said.
“Realistically, he is going to need a breakneck speed on Saturday to show up in the Caulfield Cup, but he still needs to do something.
“I want to see him finishing off to go into the Melbourne Cup (3200m) with confidence.”
Stablemate Brook Road also worked on the course proper this morning, and Lees says she is thriving in Melbourne.
Craig Williams rides her in Saturday’s Listed Alinghi Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield, when she competes against her own sex after taking on all-comers when a strong-finishing seventh to Buffering in the Group 1 wfa Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on October 2.