Former Cambridge star on target

Lucia Valentina (outside) winning the Gr. 3 Wellington Stakes when trained by Stephen Marsh.

Lucia Valentina (outside) winning the Gr. 3 Wellington Stakes when trained by Stephen Marsh.

Former Cambridge mare Lucia Valentina, one of five New Zealand-bred runners in tomorrow’s $A4 million Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick, will get conditions to suit in final day attraction.

After beginning her career with Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh and showing her class at top level, Lucia Valentina was transferred to the Australian stable of Kris Lees and has climbed to greater heights.

Now she looks to become the third Kiwi-bred to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes since it was elevated to the focal point of Sydney racing’s pin-up event, The Championships.

Lees is hoping a change of tack can help Lucia Valentina deliver success in the weight-for-age feature with one run under her belt since a spell and it’s her uninspiring second-up record that brought about the trainer’s change in thinking.

From five previous second-up starts, Lucia Valentina has failed to trouble the scorer, having not placed in each of those runs.

“I wanted to do something different with her coming into this race,” said Lees. “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. She loves a soft track and she has twice been a Group One winner third-up so that’s what I’ve tried to replicate without giving her the extra race start.”

Bred by Blandford Lodge in Matamata, Lucia Valentina is raced by Wellington businessman Lib Petagnia, who is also represented by the Marsh-trained Sofia Rosa in the Gr. 1 Australian Oaks.

The form horse of Queen Elizabeth is Zabeel’s son Preferment, a four-time Group One winner and last-start winner of The BMW. The Chris Waller trained entire has previously struggled on rain-affected conditions, but Waller believes fitness will be on Preferment’s side.

New Zealand-bred and owned galloper Criterion will be out to defend his title in the race as he prepares to sign off from racing with a stud career beckoning, while last-start winner Leebaz and consistent mare Rising Romance give Kiwi-breds a strong hand.

And from a New Zealand-trained view, all eyes will be on the Australian-bred Mongolian Khan, who will attempt to give the Murray Baker – Andrew Forsman stable its second win in the Queen Elizabeth, following on from Dundeel.

– NZ Racing Desk