Legarto thriving ahead of Aotearoa Classic

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  • January 26, 2024
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Legarto thriving ahead of Aotearoa Classic

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Trainers Ken and Bev Kelso couldn’t be happier with heir glamour mare Legarto ahead of Saturday’s inaugural running of the $1 million Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic (1600m).

The Group One winner returned in superb fashion at Ellerslie earlier this month when taking out the Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic Preview (1400m) by two lengths over Saturday race rivals Sacred Satono and Sharp ‘N’ Smart, and she has continued to please her handlers in her work.

“She has really thrived since Ellerslie, she has thrived the whole preparation really,” Ken Kelso told TAB NZ.

“She has done everything right this prep and I couldn’t be happier with her condition going into the race. All you need is a bit of luck.”

Kelso has trained many topliners over his long training career and rates the daughter of Proisir at the top of that list.

“I think she is probably the best, and that is a big call when you have Levante and going way back to Love Dance, Xanadu, and many more,” he said.

“She has certainly got those attributes that make a great horse – she has got a great temperament, she is a good eater, and everything about her is what you look for in a horse.”

Legarto carries the colours of part-owner Philip Brown, who was delighted when he saw gate seven beamed against the Auckland Sky Tower alongside his mare’s name at the barrier draw function on Wednesday night.

“It’s absolutely ideal,” he said. “Catherine (wife) asked me when we were driving up what I would like to draw, and I said seven or eight will be perfect. It is a terrific draw and I think even Ken will be pleased.

“She is in a great space and Ken and Bev do an amazing job. She will acquit herself very well on Saturday.

“It’s exciting, but she has still got to win the race.”

It wasn’t only Brown who was beaming at the barrier function, with punters also in a buoyant mood after TAB bookmakers announced they were paying out on futures bets on Legarto in the Aotearoa Classic.

“We made the decision to pay Legarto out in the futures books in the Aotearoa Classic,” TAB bookmaker Thad Taylor said.

“We have had a good look at the field and we thought this would be a nice promotion to get onboard with.

“It is never a one-horse race, funnier things have happened, but we thought for the evening, for the promotion, for the event, and for the horse, we would pay Legarto out in futures. She was boosted in those markets as well, so all those bets are in TAB customers’ accounts now.”

While shooting to claim the lion’s share in Saturday’s $1 million feature, Legarto will also be aiming to put herself in a good position to claim the $500,000 Summer Series Bonus on offer by Entain and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

The series kicked off in last Saturday’s Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) where Puntura claimed top honours, and the maximum nine points on offer to contribute towards his series total.

The Aotearoa Classic is the second leg of the series, with horses having had to have contested either of the first two series races to be eligible for the winning bonus, before progressing on to the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 10 and Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on March 9.

At the conclusion of the series, the horse with the highest points will earn a $500,000 bonus for their connections, with the runner-up earning $100,000, and the third placegetter taking home $50,000. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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