The mare Kerrin McEvoy hopes can deliver him an elusive Cox Plate has pleased the jockey in her first experience at Moonee Valley.
McEvoy rode Lucia Valentina in a solid piece of work with grand campaigner Happy Trails at Moonee Valley on Thursday morning, the Kris Lees-trained mare’s first time at the unique Melbourne racetrack which hosts the 2016 Cox Plate on Saturday week.
“She got around here really well so that was pleasing. She was on her right lead and she seems really bright and well in her work,” McEvoy said.
“It was good work. That was her main bit of work (going into the Cox Plate). Kris wanted a good work-out and that was what we got.”
If McEvoy can win the Cox Plate on Lucia Valentina he will join an elite list of riders to have won a Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Golden Slipper.
“It’s a hard one to get,” McEvoy said.
“So we’ll be trying. A bit of rain around would suit her, but the forgiving surface of Moonee Valley should be perfect for her.
“Obviously Winx and Hartnell seem to be going really well, but she’s a weight-for-age 2000 metre winner in her own right in the autumn so you can’t dismiss her lightly, that’s for sure.”
Lucia Valentina sat just off Happy Trails early in the 1400m workout before joining him and the pair went to the line with Happy Trails marginally ahead.
They clocked a sharp 23.79sec for the final 400m.
“It was very nice work,” Lees said.
“He’s always a good yardstick because he’s a really good worker, Happy Trails.”
Lees believes Lucia Valentina is similar to how she was leading into her biggest win in the $4 million the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in April but acknowledges it is a strong year with Winx and Hartnell headlining the Cox Plate contenders.
Paul Beshara described 2013 Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails’ gallop as beautiful as he prepares for a fifth crack at the race.