Luvaluva wins again to earn Group One shot

Mandy Cottell
Luvaluva has earned her ticket to New Zealand for a Group One race after winning the January Cup

Rejuvenated mare Luvaluva will be given a Group One opportunity across the Tasman after landing back-to-back stakes wins with a classy performance in the January Cup.

In a race that did not go to plan, Luvaluva was flushed out into a three-wide position when the speed slowed but rather than panic, jockey Koby Jennings used it as a chance to creep closer to the leaders.

He kept the $2.10 favourite under a hold, waiting until Luvaluva balanced up in the straight before giving her rein and she quickly put Saturday's 2000-metre race in the bag.

She scored by three quarters of a length over pacesetter Taikomochi ($5), who edged out Mr Garcia ($11) by a half-head.

A triple Group winner as a filly, Luvaluva broke a 20-month drought when she claimed the Summer Cup on Boxing Day.

After overcoming a muddling tempo to add Saturday's Listed feature, trainer John Sargent is adamant the mare has regained her confidence.

"We didn't get the suck into the race and had to go a bit earlier but I thought that might happen the way tactics were in the race because it was so slow early," Sargent said.

"She is now in form and she's got a bit of confidence.

"We thought if she went well today we might try to get a Group One in New Zealand."

The race Sargent has in mind is the weight-for-age Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 8.

"She will drop two kilos and the 2000 metres will be ideal," he said.

"This will probably do her good against this type of company and she can have one more run then have a break and hopefully in the spring she will be back to her normal self."

Luvaluva's return to form has coincided with the booking of Jennings, who Sargent sought out in the belief he would suit the mare.

It has proven to be a winning partnership and one Jennings hopes to maintain in New Zealand.

"I put him on and people asked me why, but I just thought he reminds me a lot of Blake Shinn who had good success on this horse," Sargent said.

"He's tall, he's got good hands and he's a very relaxed type of person."

Jennings admitted it wasn't ideal having to pop out early on Luvaluva but the mare had a class edge on her rivals.

"When I got lobbed out three deep, it was a train-wreck for a couple of strides,"Jennings said.

"But then she tracked forward and I was always confident.

"I just had to give her a couple of smacks to keep her going and get past the other horse (Taikomochi) but after that she cruised home."