George Main a genuine test for Lucia: Lees

Source: NZ News Desk – AAP TURF – 18th Sep 2014

Weight-for-age winners are scarce in the George Main Stakes but trainer Kris Lees expects the Group One race to be strong enough to reveal more about Lucia Valentina’s (NZ) (Savabeel) Caulfield Cup chances.

In a race where Hawkspur is the only horse among the 10 runners to have won under the elite weight scale, Lucia Valentina will be out to build on a Tramway Stakes victory which put her at the forefront of Caulfield Cup betting.

“It’s a good test for her stepping up to weight-for-age but she’ll run well,” Lees said.

Lucia Valentina came from nowhere at the 200m for Kerrin McEvoy to win the Tramway, with Lees admitting she caught the stable off-guard.

“I knew she was going well but I was a bit surprised by her dominance,” he said.

Caulfield Cup betting could take on a different look after Saturday’s racing with Lucia Valentina clashing with Rising Romance at Randwick as The Offer (Montjeu) continues his spring campaign in the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.

Rising Romance (NZ) (Ekraar) and The Offer are the equal Caulfield Cup favourites at $11 and Lucia Valentina shares the second line of betting at $13.

“The George Main should give us a good indication where we are heading,” Lees said.

“There is an option to stay in Sydney but I’d say we’d go down to Melbourne and run her in the Turnbull Stakes as her lead-up to the Caulfield Cup.”

Little separates the top five horses in most George Main markets and it’s not lost on Lees that the inexperienced three-year-old Panzer Division (Redoute’s Choice) is among them.

His father Max trained Coronation Day (Bletchingly) to win the 1992 George Main as a three-year-old and Lees is ignoring a lean run for the age group since Viscount’s (Quest for Fame) 2001 victory to name Panzer Division as one of the threats to his mare.

“It’s a good race for three-year-olds over time and Panzer Division might be the horse to beat,” he said.

Panzer Division finds himself vying for George Main favouritism after just three starts in a career that began in modest circumstances with a Kembla Grange maiden win in July – AAP TURF.

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