Ken Kelso is looking forward to heading to Rotorua on Wednesday where he will kick-off the careers of a couple of well-bred fillies.
Little Jeanie will make her raceday debut in the AT Cook Contracting 2YO (1230m) and Kelso is hoping she can showcase the talent that she has displayed at home.
“She is a nice, well-bred filly. She is not overly big, but she has got a great temperament and is a good doer. She is going the right way at this stage,” said Kelso, who trains in partnership with his wife Bev.
Out of a half-sister to Group One winners Puccini and Sir Slick, Little Jeanie was runner-up in her 900m trial on a Heavy8 track at Te Rapa last month, and Kelso is hoping the daughter of Savabeel can replicate that form on Arawa Park’s Heavy10-rated surface.
“She trialled up well at Te Rapa and seemed to handle the ground,” Kelso said.
“Whether she handles the ground tomorrow will be a big question mark. She has handled it at the trials, but raceday is a bit different.
“She has worked well and everything seems to be okay. She has drawn nice (2) and I expect a nice run.”
Depending on how she performs on Thursday, Little Jeanie may follow a similar path to pin-up stablemate Legarto’s season last year.
The daughter of Proisir won her sole two-year-old start before returning in the spring where she won four consecutive races, including the Gr.3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m), Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) and Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m), before jetting off to Australia in autumn where she won the Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
“It depends how she goes tomorrow,” Kelso said.
“If she put her hand up, we may give her a little break and then bring her back like we did last year with Legarto.
“We are just trying to get a two-year-old run into her, but with these heavy tracks it is not easy.”
Kelso is also looking forward to Divine Essence making her debut in the Campbell Infrastructure 3YO (1230m).
The daughter of Iffraaj is also well-related, being out of a half-sister to Group One performers Now Voyager and Zazabelle.
The three-year-old filly showed plenty of promise at the trials as a juvenile, however, injury delayed her raceday debut.
“She looked very promising and won her trial at Taupo nicely last year,” Kelso said.
“She had a setback with a slight hairline fracture and she just needed time to heal. She seems to have got over that now and has had one trial on the synthetic.”
The Heavy10 track conditions will play a factor once more, but Kelso is confident of a bold showing from the filly.
“She seems to handle the ground working on the track, but once again, it is a question of whether she is going to cope with it tomorrow,” he said.
“But she needs to kick-off somewhere and left-handed on a grass track is hard to find, that is why we are going.”
Meanwhile, Kelso has been pleased with the progress of Legarto’s preparation, and he is looking at stepping her out at the trials on the first day of the new season.
“She spelled great and is coming up well. She has had a few three-quarter paces. We are just picking our time with the tracks to work on,” he said.
“She will hopefully trial on August 1 at Te Rapa on the inside track. It is all going well at this stage.
“She may kick-off here in the Tarzino (Gr.1, 1400m) at Hastings. If the weather doesn’t improve here and we end up with a heavy track, then we will have to look to go to Australia straight away.
“But if we get a reasonable track at Hastings, we will probably kick-off there.”