Front-runner: Damien Oliver rides Lucia Valentina to win The Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick. Photo: bradleyphotos上海龙凤419m.auIt is the time of year when Mondays and Tuesdays get has much focus as Saturday race meetings as the stars of the turf return at barrier trials in preparation for the spring.
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will be a focus on Monday as Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Lucia Valentina and Randwick Guineas victor La Romain step out at Wyong.
There will be little fanfare with Newcastle-based hoop Andrew Gibbons to ride Lucia Valentina and Matt Scorse jumping on La Romain.
“There was no need to have one of the big-name boys come up and ride at the first trial,” Lees said. “They aren’t there to do too much and won’t be off the bridle.
“It is about a trip away and getting a grass gallop to have them ready for August 20 at Randwick when they will resume. We just want them to tick over and stay happy.”
Damien Oliver has first refusal on Lucia Valentina but it is unclear whether he will ride her in the Warwick Stakes, which is possibly her only Sydney run of a campaign targeting the Cox Plate.
Christian Reith is likely to keep the ride on La Romain, which is being aimed at the Epsom Handicap.
Meanwhile, Chris Waller will start to roll out his spring team at the Rosehill barrier trials on Tuesday with his entries headed by four-time group 1 winner Preferment, which take on stayers Grand Marshall and Who Shot Thebarman in heat two, and Spring Champion Stakes winner Vanbrugh.
There are several two-year-old heats, which will provide a starting point for the Peter- and Paul Snowden-trained Defcon, Omei Sword from the Waller yard, Reisling Stakes winner French Fern and Crafty Cop.