Racing fans were left shaking their heads at Ellerslie on Saturday evening after witnessing exciting mare Levante take out the Group 2 Westbury Classic (1400m). For those who had never seen the Proisir four-year-old in action before, they could have been forgiven for ripping up their betting tickets up at the 600m as the $1.40 favourite was dead last in the ten-horse field and struggling to catch the runners immediately ahead of her.
What happened next was succinctly summed up by Levante’s rider Sam Collett when she admitted later that ‘there are good horses and then there are horses like her’. Collett was left shaking her head as the Ken and Bev Kelso-trained mare simply looped around the outside of all runners shortly after straightening for the run home and then hit the afterburners as she scorched down the middle of the track for the easiest two-length victory you might ever see.
“It wasn’t until I got about a third of the way into the straight that I thought I’m alright,” Collett said. “She was flat, not travelling that great and a long way off them. “I had to keep my composure and keep her balanced but when I asked her in those first few strides she just surged and I knew then it was going to be okay.
“She is what jockeys’ dreams are made of, she is just unreal and I’m just rapt to be a part of it. “She just seems to get lower and longer and you probably don’t appreciate just how fast she is. “At home she is very casual and just goes about her business.”
An emotional Ken Kelso was trying to keep it all together as he paid tribute to his wife and co-trainer Bev, who wasn’t able to be on-course to witness the victory due to a bout of ill health. “I said a while ago she is the best we’ve had and I will stick by that,” he said.
“She makes it hard on herself but that’s just her pattern of racing. “She is just so special although I had my eyes closed when they were coming to the turn. “The sad aspect for today is that Bev isn’t here as she has been under the weather lately. I would have loved for her to be here.”
Levante has now won six of her 8 starts for her owners that include Ancroft Stud’s Phillip Brown and his wife Catherine, former Waikato Racing Club Chief Executive Tony Enting and former touring golf professional Mark Tapper.
Her Rich Hill Stud-based sire Proisir will be well represented by 7 individuals at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale that kicks off at 1pm at Karaka on Sunday.