IN Racing
Curtain set to come down on Levante’s star-studded career
On the eve of her final raceday appearance, it has been announced that four-time Group One winner Levante (Proisir) will go up for auction at next month’s Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.
NZ Racing Desk | April 06, 2023
Photo: Darryl Sherer

On the eve of her final raceday appearance, it has been announced that four-time Group One winner Levante (Proisir) will go up for auction at next month’s Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

The Ken and Bev Kelso-trained mare gets her last chance to add an Australian Group One win to her record in Saturday’s Gr.1 Queen of the Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.

Her 12 wins from 22 starts include back-to-back wins in the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) as well as the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) and the Gr.1 Otaki WFA (1600m).

Levante’s three starts in Australia have resulted in fourth placings at Flemington in the Gr.1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and Gr.1 Champions Sprint (1200m) and at her most recent appearance, fifth in the Gr.1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.

“We’ve had long discussions amongst ourselves and this will be her last race, so with our partners not wanting to be involved in her broodmare career, she’ll go to the Gold Coast Broodmare Sale,” Levante’s principal owner Philip Brown said.

“We have no intention of racing her beyond this weekend and she will be catalogued as a breeding proposition only.”

Along with her ownership group, Saturday’s race will be a source of mixed emotions for trainers Ken and Bev Kelso and others close to Levante on a daily basis. 

“We realise she can’t go on forever and now the time has come, we understand that, but we’re very comfortable with how she is going into the race,” Ken Kelso said from Sydney.

“That was a very good run in the George Ryder given the circumstances, what with the wide draw and the way she had to be ridden.

“She’s come through it well and her work has been very good since. We would have liked to have drawn better (than 13) and we’re hoping the track improves a bit more, but she’s as well as we can have her.

“We just hope everything pans out well for her and she gets a fair crack at it.

“Right from the start she’s been an amazing horse,” added Kelso. “She’s had so much to deal with – two colic surgeries and other issues – so to achieve what she has is quite incredible.

“If we’ve got one regret it’s the issues she’s had meant we couldn’t get her up over ground. There’s no question in our mind she would have been just as good over a trip, but we can’t dwell on that.”

While a Group One win in Australia would be the perfect way to bring the curtain down on Levante’s career, the Kelsos will forever remember the bonny mare not just for her sheer ability but for her faultless demeanour.

“She’s been such a delight with a wonderful nature, we would never have seen her put her ears back, that’s just not her,” Bev Kelso said.

“Then for her to go out and try so hard, give everything even when things were against her, that’s the ultimate racehorse.”

The rising seven-year-old, a member of the first crop of new sire sensation Proisir and the first of his five Group One winners, was foaled and reared at the Browns’ Ancroft Stud on behalf of her breeder Scott Williams.

He offered her to the Browns as a weanling when she was surplus to requirements and for a four-figure sum the Browns and friends Tony and Mary Enting, Michael Stedman and Mark Tapper became the bay filly’s new owners.

Stedman, a well-respected bloodstock agent who divided his time between his native Australia and New Zealand, succumbed to cancer in mid-2021, sadly before Levante had hit her peak, and the Browns bought his 15 percent interest from his estate.

“Whether or not she wins on Saturday, she’ll always be our Queen of the Turf. She’s fulfilled more than we ever could have imagined,” Brown said.

“Owning a horse like her has been a life-changing experience and the source of so much enjoyment for all of us.

“Catherine and I already owned 50 percent, so with our shareholding total we’re hoping to get a partner to join us and take full ownership,” Philip Brown said.

“Putting her up for public auction is the fairest and most transparent way to dissolve the partnership, which after all has been totally amicable from the start.”

The Browns and Entings are also partners along with the Kelsos and a group of friends in another star performer for Proisir, Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) and Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m) winner Legarto, who is currently spelling ahead of a spring campaign.

Ancroft Stud Australia Bev Kelso George Ryder Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint Gr.1 Champions Sprint Gr.1 George Ryder Stakes Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas Gr.1 Newmarket Handicap Gr.1 Otaki WFA Gr.1 Telegraph Ken Kelso Legarto Levante Mark Tapper Mary Enting Michael Stedman Lady Proisir Gr.1 Randwick Guineas Scott Williams Sydney