Group One winner Levante has touched down in Melbourne ahead of her debut run on Australian soil this Saturday in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
Fresh off wins in the Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) and Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m), New Zealand trainers Ken and Bev Kelso decided to test their star mare across the Tasman and they have been pleased with the way she has settled in.
“She landed late Wednesday afternoon and travelled well. She did well in the feed bin last night, so everything is good at this stage,” Ken Kelso told RSN.
The daughter of Proisir has drawn gate 10 on Saturday and will be ridden by Michael Dee, and Kelso is confident she will be competitive in the handy field.
“I think the straight is very similar to Trentham,” he said. “I suppose you never know until you go but she is pretty adaptable, and I don’t think it is going to worry her.
“She can run the time. Some of her sectionals have been really outstanding. She has come home in 32 in a couple of races she has run.
“We are here to test the waters and see where we sit.
“We will probably come back in the spring and aim at some fillies and mares races over a bit further.”
It’s been eight years since Kelso has campaigned a horse at Flemington and he is excited to have another topline horse to make the trip.
“Probably when Bounding ran second to Chautauqua in the Gilgai Stakes was the last time I was at Flemington,” he said.
“Previous to that was Envoy in the Melbourne Cup where he finished seventh to Makybe Diva.”
Kelso said he has been impressed with Levante from the outset and has labelled her the best mare he has trained.
“When she started winning I thought she would be the best we have had,” he said.
“One or two said that was a pretty big statement because we have had some good mares – Xanadu, Love Dance, and Bounding.
“At this stage she is proving it.”