Talented mare Levante will get her first chance to prove herself at elite-level at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day when she contests the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m). The Ken and Bev Kelso-trained four-year-old has won all but one of her six career starts, with the only blot on her perfect record being a runner-up result in the Group 2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) in March.
She returned to her winning ways when first-up in the Listed Counties Bowl (1100m) last month, where she impressed her trainers after missing away at the start. “It was a fantastic effort. The sectionals were unbelievable,” Ken Kelso said.
The daughter of Proisir has pleased Kelso since the run, with a trial victory over Entriviere, and an exhibition gallop on her home track at Matamata last week. “She has trained on really well,” Kelso said. “She had a nice trial the other day at Te Aroha. The horse of Jamie Richards (Entriviere) went with her in the trial and they were six lengths clear.
“They came out and bolted in at Ellerslie, so that franked the form of the trial. “She had an exhibition gallop last Wednesday at Matamata in a pretty slick time. “She has done maintenance work since then and worked really nice this morning. She is bright and bouncy. I couldn’t be happier leading into the race.”
Levante has drawn the ace marble for Friday’s feature, but Kelso isn’t overly perturbed about the barrier. “I would have preferred to have drawn out a bit, but two things we can’t control are barrier draws and weather,” he said.
Kelso is looking forward to New Year’s Day and he is hoping Levante can do what recently retired stablemate Supera couldn’t. The daughter of Savabeel was Group 1-placed on four occasions, including the Group 1 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. “She was a bit slow away and the leaders slackened the pace,” Kelso said.
“She got on her heels and started to over-race, but it was a really good run (to come second). “It’s a shame she didn’t get the Group 1, but she was four times Group 1 placed. “Most of her starts were Group 1 or Group 2 races and she has been competitive in all of them, so you can’t be disappointed with that.”