Northern hoop Ryan Elliot will head home to Horowhenua this weekend where he is favoured to bring home the lion’s share of the $300,000 purse in the Gr.1 El Cheapo Cars WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki on Saturday.
Elliot will partner multiple Group One winner Levante who has been installed a $2.50 favourite with TAB bookmakers to secure her fourth success at elite level.
The pair have posted some pleasing results of late, winning the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) and placing in the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) and Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1200m) in her last three starts for trainers Ken and Bev Kelso.
“She has just come up against a better horse on the day (in the Railway and BCD Group Sprint) and the track had dried out a little bit in those couple of starts, but she still ran home well,” Elliot said.
Levante won’t be met by her Railway and BCD Group Sprint vanquishers Imperatriz and Babylon Berlin on Saturday but will still encounter some worthy opposition, with all but two of her eight foes having performed at Group One level.
“There are some nice horses in the race, including the other top mare from Matamata (La Crique) and it is always going to be tough to beat a mare like that, but we should get the right run in the race to hopefully get over the top of her,” Elliot said.
“She is going well and she is going to get the little rain she needs, and stretching out to a mile now I think is going to really suit her.”
Elliot is taking a winning feeling into the weekend, having ridden the Bryce Newman-trained Sugah Sweet to success in the Floyd and Toy Real Estate 1600 at Wanganui on Thursday.
“The horse is going well. She struck a wet track, was down in the weights and hopefully her rating gets up now to head for some black-type races,” he said.
Elliot is also looking forward to spending some time with his family back home in Levin on the trip.
“You get stuck up north and don’t get too many opportunities to come down, so it is nice when you can,” he said.
“I was just helping out Kevin Myers this morning doing the gallops, I’ll head down to see Mum for a couple of days which will be good.”