Kris Lees entered the Melbourne spring with a couple of likely chances on his books.
He had last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist aimed for a repeat win and Lucia Valentina also on a Cups campaign.
It didn’t go to plan.
Protectionist finished with bone bruising to his fetlocks after the Caulfield Cup and is in quarantine awaiting a return to Germany.
Lucia Valentina will join stablemate Oriental Lady in the Matriarch Stakes, a Group Two race for mares at Flemington on Saturday.
Lucia Valentina has failed to recapture her form of 12 months ago that saw her run third in the Caulfield Cup and she enters Saturday’s race off a ninth placing to Mongolian Khan in this year’s edition.
“It’s a good drop in grade,” Lees said.
“She’ll appreciate the sting out and with any luck I think she’ll be very competitive.
“She’s probably a bit below where she was at this time last year, so that’s the reason for her drop in grade which might give her a bit of confidence.”
Lees said the mare has been racing at a higher level all spring, competing against Kermadec and Winx before making her way down to Melbourne.
Oriental Lady will find the roomier Flemington circuit to her liking after finishing fourth at Cranbourne on October 9 before a third at Moonee Valley on October 23.
“Whether she can make that step in grade we’ll see,” Lees said.
The two mares haven’t drawn the best – Lucia Valentina in 16 for Damien Oliver and Oriental Lady 18 for Damian Browne.
Lees said the draws may be suitable late in the day.
Punters think Lucia Valentina is the better chance of the pair at $4.80 with Oriental Lady a $35 chance.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au