I Wish I Win pleases in Pakenham jumpout

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  • March 07, 2024
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The connections of short-priced favourite Legarto are in for a massive payday following Saturday’s $450,000 Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie, irrespective of the result.

The daughter of Proisir is almost assured of taking home the lion’s share of the $650,000 summer series bonus that was introduced this year by Entain Australia and New Zealand in association with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

The series is running across four races between January and March, rewarding $500,000 to the series winner, $100,000 to the runner-up and $50,000 for the third placegetter, with the associated trainers taking home 10 percent of the bonus payments.

To become eligible for the bonus, a horse needed to have contested either of the first two legs of the series – the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 20 or $1 million Aotearoa Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 27.

Having finished runner-up in the Aotearoa Classic before taking out the third leg of the series, the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa last month, Legarto is a clear series leader with 20.5 points.

With 13.5 points given to the winner of the fourth and final leg of the series, the New Zealand Stakes, and Legarto assured of three points for just starting in the race, Robbie Patterson’s One Bold Cat is the only other horse in contention for the series’ top prize, with the Taranaki gelding having to win and Legarto to finish outside the top four in order to take home $500,000.

While it will be a tough ask to roll the $1.45 favourite, One Bold Cat (10.5 points) still has the minor bonuses to chase, alongside stablemate Puntura (9 points), El Vencedor (7 points), and Sharp ‘N’ Smart and Skyman (5 points).

While chasing a Group One prize is always the primary objective, Legarto’s trainers Ken and Bev Kelso are excited by the added incentive of the summer series bonus.

“It is going to be a great day on Saturday because we have got that bonus to go for as well, which is going to be a huge payday,” Ken Kelso told Trackside NZ. “She doesn’t have to win it to get the bonus, it is quite exciting.”

Legarto had a trial last week to keep her up to the mark post her Herbie Dyke win, and Kelso has been pleased with her progress.

“She had a quiet trial here at Matamata last Thursday over 1100m. She was only getting warmed-up at the line,” he said.

“I go down every night at about 7:30pm and check her, and she licks the bowl clean by then and is looking for more. She is really thriving.”

While there is some pressure that comes with lining up a short-priced favourite every time you go to the races, Kelso said it is great to give the sport a heroine to help promote the industry.

“She goes out pretty short every time, which puts a little bit of pressure on you,” he said. “She is as well as we can get her, it is just up to Ryan (Elliot, jockey) now.

“It is great for racing (to have a horse like Legarto). We need these horses to profile the sport and hopefully they get a bit of a following, like Roger’s (James) filly (Orchestral) last week (when winning the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby, 2400m).”

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