Lucia Valentina ready for Autumn after strong Hong Kong showing

Lucia ValentinaLUCIA Valentina will arrive back in Australia next week to prepare for the autumn after a fantastic run in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup earlier this month.

The Kris Lees-trained mare ran fifth behind A Shin Hikari in one of the world’s toughest races and now it has the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes in April on its agenda.

The multiple Group 1 winning mare traveled to Hong Kong on the back of a strong performance at Flemington and Damien Oliver stated Lucia Valentina’s run in Hong Kong would win “eight out of 10 Group 1’s in Australia”.

The former New Zealand runner will return home next Monday before spending two weeks in quarantine at Werribee where it will do light work before returning to Lees’ pre-training facility in the Hunter Valley.

“I’ll start pre-training her out of a yard, using the aquasizer for about a fortnight before she returns to the stables at Broadmeadow,” Lees said.

“She’s not the sort of horse that needs much paddock rest.”

Lees is eyeing the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 9 which will be planned as its second start of the autumn carnival.

“The Hong Kong trip confirmed our thoughts that she’s the sort of mare that’s effective with her runs spaced,” he said.

“She’s not the most robust of horses and has always performed well fresh but the Hong Kong experience showed us she can do it over 2000 metres.

“Knowing that now we are going to run in the George Ryder [Stakes on March 19] then go straight into the Queen Elizabeth.”

Lees stated the Group 1 Doomben Cup in May could also be on the cards.

The market for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes is available to bet on at where Cox Plate-winning Winx is the current $4.80 favourite.

2015 Hong Kong Vase winner and Cox Plate placegetter Highland Reel has been well supported at $11 on the second line of betting with Criterion which was extremely disappointing in Hong Kong.

The quality of nominations is evident in the market with the likes of Mongolian Khan at $13 and the internationally-performed Gailo Chop at $26.

2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes market

Now is the best time to sign up to a bookmaker and get investing on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. It may be run in April, but these odds won’t last long and the early bird gets the worm.

With the current favourite Winx paying $4.80, that’s a much better price than punters will likely get on the day. The next best runner is paying double figures and that value just won’t last.

Below are the top market picks at with some value runners added.

Winx – $4.80 @
Highland Reel – $11
Criterion – $11
Mongolian Khan – $13
Turn Me Loose – $15
Press Statement – $15
Tarzino – $15
First Seal – $15
Preferment – $17
Delicacy – $17
Kermadec – $17
Pornichet – $21
Bow Creek – $21
Xtravagant – $21
Fawkner – $26
Vanbrugh – $26
Magic Hurricane – $26
Gailo Chop – $26
Vokstok’n’barrell – $26
Magic Artist – $26
Stay With Me – $26
Arod – $34
Lucia Valentina – $51
Who Shot Thebarman – $51
Sacred Eye – $51
The Cleaner – $101
Sweynesse – $151

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