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Newcastle conditioner Kris Lees will be hoping that his exciting galloper Lucia Valentina can bring up her third career Group 1 this Saturday when she contests the Caulfield Cup over 2400 metres.
The four-year-old brown mare, currently the $4.40 favourite with Sportingbet after yesterday’s barrier draw., claimed the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill in the Autumn before finishing a strong third in the Australian Oaks behind Rising Romance.
At her first start back in September, Lucia Valentina claimed the Group 2 Tramway Stakes and then ran sixth in the George Main before making her first trip down to Melbourne where she tasted success in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
That win earned her a spot in this year’s Caulfield Cup where she will jump from barrier 12 with 53kg.
While Lucia Valentina comes into the race with some excellent recent form, Lees has expressed his concern surrounding the two Japanese racers who remain a bit of a mystery.
One of those is Bande which firmed firmed into $8 with Sportingbet after drawing barrier 10 . The Yoshito Yahagi-trained stayer is a last start winner of the listed Sapporo Nikkei back in Japan, while in the preparation prior to that he ran third in the Group 1 Japanese St. Leger.
Bande will carry 56.5kg in his quest to seize the Caulfield Cup while fellow Japanese raider Admire Rakti is the top weight with 58kg. Admire Rakti, currently $10 with Sportingbet, has not had a run since May and prior to that he had been mixing his form back home with just two placings last season.
English stayer Dandino drifted after drawing barrier 22, as did Kiwi mare Rising Romance which has come up with barrier 17 and you can currently get odds of $14 for both with Sportingbet.
Leading trainer Chris Waller will saddle up four contenders with Hawkspur, Junoob, Moriarty and Who Shot Thebarman all striving for success and you can currently get value with all of them at double figure odds.
Hawkspur, steady at $17 with Sportingbet, has barrier nine and champion jockey Damien Oliver on his back while Moriarty, currently $21 with Sportingbet, is going into the Cup on the back of his last start win in the Craven Plate at Randwick.
Junoob has drifted out a fraction after drawing barrier 15 and is currently rated a $14 chance with Sportingbet while Who Shot Thebarman rocketed into contention for the Caulfield Cup after his last start win in The Bart Cummings at Flemington and is now showing odds of $15.
Also rated $15 chances with Sportingbet are Lidari, which ran second to Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes last start, and Dear Demi which claimed the Group 2 Stocks Stakes at Moonee Valley over 1600 metres two runs back.