The connections of exciting galloper Levante will be looking for an indication on any changes to the current trans-Tasman travel restrictions before making a decision on her next raceday assignment.
While one-way travel to Australia is no issue, returning home is a significant headache for New Zealanders, with two weeks quarantine still mandatory and places in managed isolation at a premium.
The four-year-old daughter of Proisir was on her A-game at Ellerslie on Saturday, dominating her rivals in her customary last-to-first style at what was her first try over 1600m.
Most importantly, the high-class mare jumped cleanly from the barriers, having previously bombed the start in the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa last month.
The Ken and Bev Kelso-trained mare recorded her seventh career victory at just her 10th start and has quickly become a fan favourite in New Zealand, given her stunning closing speed.
Despite having had the benefit of a barrier trial at Rotorua early in the month to give her some more practice in the starting gates, Ken Kelso admitted he was a little anxious as he watched his charge load away on Saturday.
“It’s always in the back of your mind after what she did at Te Rapa,” Kelso said. “She had jumped away well at home when I’d given her some practice with a couple of our older horses.
“She’d also jumped out well at the trials, so I think it was just a one-off sort of thing the other day at Te Rapa where she was in the barriers a long time due to a delay.
“We didn’t have to give her the trial, but it was for our own peace of mind and it was a good idea as it helped get her ready for Saturday as it was a month between runs.
“We had been looking forward to getting her up over the mile and she did it pretty easily in the end.”
Kelso reported the mare had pulled up in fine fettle after the run and the task now was to decide on whether to press ahead to a start in the A$1 million Group 1 Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on April 10 or to tackle the NZ$200,0000 Group 1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on the same day.
Both races are restricted to fillies and mares and run under weight-for-age conditions.
“We have paid a nomination and a first acceptance for the Coolmore Legacy but realistically we are still undecided about making the trip until we can get some more clarity around the current travel restrictions,” he said.
“The logistics of it, with quarantine and the like, makes it very hard, so we are looking to see whether there will be a travel bubble or any easing of restrictions before we make a final decision.
“We do have options as there is a Group One mile just half an hour down the road at Te Aroha, so it is not like we don’t have anything else to look at.
“That Australian race will attract the cream of the crop with horses like Arcadia Queen and Probabeel possibly joining a number of the ones that ran in the Coolmore Classic (Group 1, 1500m) at Rosehill yesterday, so it will be no easy task.
“We would like to take her over there and if we don’t go this time there is still Melbourne in the spring as another option.”
Kelso also advised that Levante’s promising stablemate Les Crayeres had enjoyed a week in the paddock after finishing third at Ellerslie on New Zealand Derby day and would most likely be back in action within the next two weeks.