Kris Lees’ Lucia Valentina dominates Queen Elizabeth Stakes

HOME: Damien Oliver celebrates as Lucia Valentina wins the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday at Randwick. Picture: bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Lib Petanga has never had a day at the races like it. He watched Sofia Rosa win the Australian Oaks, but the best was to come as Lucia Valentina got her toe into the ground and demolished the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
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A long-term plan from Newcastletrainer Kris Lees to attack the $4 million group 1 second up from a spell had looked forlorn at the top of straight when Lucia Valentina missed a run.

“I actually thought she was going to fall,” Petanga said. “You are watching her and you see her get shut out and think oh no.”

Damien Oliver had one of those great days you get when you have ridden 109 group 1 winners, but this one looked gone when he went for a gap and it closed.

“Coming to the turn, I had a lot of horse and not much room to go anywhere,” Oliver said. “I went up in between a couple as we straightened and I got shut out of that.

“She picked herself up again and just went whoosh. At the furlong it was nearly all over. I went from the outhouse to the penthouse in about 200 metres from the 400m to the 200m. She always likes a [soft] track and she certainly enjoyed that track.”

It was a big day for the team, and a second group 1 for Oliver, who now sits second behind George Moore for the most group 1s won by Australian jockeys after he won the Coolmore Legacy Stakes earlier on Azkadellia.

Lees had earlier won the Provincial Championship with Danish Twist and celebrated a plan that came together in the most brilliant fashion as Lucia Valentina won by twolengths from favourite The United States with Happy Clapper two lengths away in third.

“It’s very rewarding when you set a horse for a race so far out,” Lees said. “I just thought I had to do something a bit different, thinking I would be taking on Winx, to be fair.

“She’s got a terrific turn of foot, she’s so effective at 2000 metres and she loves a gap between runs.I don’t know why it took me so long to do it. I just wanted to get her here with fresh legs. She didn’t have a spell, she just had a little bit of time off so she got here in really good order.”

While the preparation had gone perfectly, Lees admitted he had almost given up hope in the running.

“Things just didn’t go her way. She looked in a lot of trouble on the turn, she dipped and went down on her nose but I just knew she had that blistering turn of foot if she got a bit of clear running.”

Petanga couldn’t believe his luck after sending Lucia Valentina as young horse to Lees, who had been the underbidder on her.

“When she came over here we thought she was a real group 1 horse and she has shown that, but full credit to Kris because this was his plan,” Petanga said.

“This is surreal … you dream about days like this.”