Unbeaten three-year-old filly Levante will tackle Group company for the first time on Saturday when she contests the Group 2 carfinance.co.nz Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham.
The Ken and Bev Kelso-trained daughter of Proisir has been installed a $2.50 favourite for the black-type assignment and has impressed in each of her four career victories, which included a last start win at Matamata in Rating 72 grade. “I’m very happy with her preparation,” Ken Kelso said. “Her work on Wednesday was first-class on the course proper against the rail. “She has never left the Waikato, that is probably a question mark, but she has a fantastic attitude. “She is very laid back and a great eater.”
Levante has come from well back in all of her starts to date and will once again be guided by patient rider Ryan Elliot. A good surface is forecast for Trentham on Saturday, which is likely to play to Levante’s strengths, after the filly resented the Slow7 track last start. “She hated the rain-affected track,” Kelso said. “It was only her class that got her through. Ryan said she hated it from the moment she jumped. “She will cop a Dead 5 or 6 but that was probably a bit worse. “It was a very good effort. She has kept raising the bar. I am mindful that this is her first trip away and she is stepping up a grade as well, but she couldn’t have done more than what she has done.”
Not one to get too far ahead of himself, Kelso had earmarked the Wellington Guineas as a potential target for the exciting filly. “We have always said we will take one step at a time,” he said. “We have always targeted this race. It is probably the last shorter three-year-old race around. What she does on Saturday will determine what we do. “I think it is a very even field, there is five or six that can win the race including Star of Bombay and Bella Mente. It is a hell of a good field.”
While Levante is straight forward, the same can’t be said for her Group 2 winning stablemate Supera, who found the line well for third in the Group 1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) behind Avantage and True Enough last week. The Savabeel mare oozes talent but has her quirks and is being aimed towards the Group 1 Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha next month in a bid to land a Group 1.
“With a month between her runs Te Aroha is the obvious target,” Kelso said. “She has had an easy week but she will step up and go to Te Aroha. “There was no pace in the race last week and it wasn’t run to suit her. She attacked the line well so we will freshen her up and I think she is a good chance at Te Aroha. She goes a good mile on the fresh side.”
Kelso is keen to gain an all-important Group 1 win on home soil for the Sir Peter Vela raced granddaughter of champion mare Ethereal before considering options abroad. “I think her temperamental traits are too much of a negative to look at Australia at this stage,” Kelso said. “The ultimate goal is to get a Group 1 in New Zealand first and then we will assess things from there.”