Matamata trainers Ken and Bev Kelso will look to raise the bar for exciting filly Levante after taking her to Te Aroha for Friday’s ParkMate.co.nz 1400. The three-year-old daughter of Proisir has had two starts for two highly impressive wins, producing scintillating finishes from the back of the field to win at Matamata on December 6 and December 28.
She was ridden on both occasions by Ryan Elliot, who will be in the saddle again in the $25,000 three-year-old race at Te Aroha on Friday. “She’s been pretty impressive in both starts so far and has shown a lot of ability,” Ken Kelso said. “We’re very happy with her heading into this race on Friday. Her work’s been very good, she’s eating well and continuing to thrive. “We thought about running her in the Mr Tiz Trophy (Group 3, 1200m) at Ellerslie on Saturday, but decided to take a softer option this week. It should be a nice race for her.
“If she runs well again on Friday, we’ll look at stepping up to black-type level for her next start. That will probably be in the Mufhasa Stakes (Listed, 1300m) at Ellerslie on February 29. We’re taking things one race at a time with her, but that’s the plan we’ve got in the back of our minds at this stage.”
The Kelso’s will still have representation at Saturday’s rich Ellerslie meeting with Princess Kereru lining up in the Group 2 Westbury Classic (1400m). The Pins mare was a star over shorter trips last season, winning the Group 3 Waikato Stud Plate (1200m) and Listed NZB Finance Sprint (1200m) and finishing second in the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m).
After a fast-finishing third in the Group 2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe in November, she stepped back down to 1200m and finished 10th in the Railway on New Year’s Day. “Her sectionals were okay in the Railway, but we were still a fraction disappointed by her run there,” Kelso said. “We’re thinking she might appreciate 1400m now. Those races aren’t quite so pressurised all the way. That was the case in the Breeders’ Stakes at Counties, where she ran really well. “So the idea behind running her in the Westbury, rather than perhaps aiming her at the Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham last week, is that we think these 1400m fillies and mares’ races might be more suitable for her now.”
Meanwhile, multiple Group 2 winner Supera is on the comeback trail following the slight setback that ruled her out of last month’s Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie, for which she was the TAB’s fixed-odds favourite. “She’s back in work now,” Kelso said. “She’s over that little hiccup and going very well. “The plan is to trial her at Te Teko on February 11, which should be a nice hit-out for her. All going well, she will then head to Otaki to run in the Haunui Farm WFA Classic (Group 1, 1600m) on February 22.”
Sacred Falls filly Shoshone, an impressive winner of her only start in June of last year, showed good signs with a close second in a trial at Matamata on Tuesday of last week. “She’s coming along nicely,” Kelso said. “She’ll run in a Rating 65 at Matamata on February 2, and then we’ll look at stepping her up in class after that.”