The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
The Cox Plate in October has been named as a likely spring target for brilliant Kiwi filly Legarto following her incredible Group 1 win down under in a dramatic edition of the Australian Guineas 2023.
The 38th running of the Group 1 $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m) was marred by a nasty race fall involving the front-running Maximillius (Ethan Brown) and Holymanz (Mark Zahra) inside the home straight.
Both of the fallen horses got up to cross the line rider less late appearing to have escaped any serious injuries, with updates on the jockeys to follow.
Maximillius took up the lead in the Australian Guineas striding out to take them around the turn and into the straight up front before falling.
Staying out of trouble and coming on well off a good run settled close in fourth throughout was the Mitchell Freedman-trained Attrition up the middle of the track.
He was finishing strongly along with Michael Moroney‘s 100/1 roughie Japanese Emperor.
Just when it looked like the boys would get top honours in the Australian Guineas results the script was flipped with a stellar late performance by Ken & Bev Kelso‘s talented New Zealand filly Legarto.
The ultra-consistent daughter of Proisir travelled down under having won five of her six starts at home across the Tasman including the Group 1 NZ 1000 Guineas (1600m) last November.
She was luckless in her lead-up run when fourth as the beaten favourite with excuses in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) in January, which she atoned for in her Australian race debut.
Jockey Michael Dee continued his outstanding season backing-up from a Blue Diamond Stakes victory on Little Brose from last weekend to secure his ninth Group 1 success.
Legarto ($6.50) and Dee drove through right on the line to beat home the brave Attrition ($7) by a long-head, while Japanese Emperor ran third a further long neck back at triple-figures.
“She’s just an amazing filly,” co-trainer Ken Kelso told Racing.com.
“Probably 100 (metres) out you thought you were going to run fifth, sixth seventh or eighth.
“She does things other horses can’t do. She’s pretty special.”
Legarto is the sixth Australian Guineas winning filly in history and the first since Mystic Journey (2019).
Dee meanwhile won the race two years ago on $301 pop Lunar Fox and this year combined with yet another New Zealander to hand the Kelso’s with their first Group 1 success in Australia.
“She’s just incredible, every time she races I stand here with my mouth hope like how the hell did she do that?” Bev Kelso said.
Ken Kelso confirmed plans to now head back home with Legarto before hopefully bringing her back in the spring to target the end-of-year majors including the Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 28.
“We’ll take her home and come back in the spring,” he said.
“We think she should probably have a bit of a break and have a dream of Cox Plates and Caulfield Cups sort of thing.
“I said we wouldn’t retire until we won a Group 1 in Australia. Just massive, I can’t believe it.”
Dee agreed that Legarto could be a force to be reckoned with returning a more mature mare later in the year.
“Wow, she’s got a very, very good turn of foot,” he said.
“It was an amazing effort.
“She’s still on the way up that’s for sure. She’s only lightly raced and she arguably should be unbeaten.
“I think she could come back in the spring and she could be anything.”
2023 Australian Guineas Results & Finishing Order
|1||15||LEGARTO (NZ)||Ken & Bev Kelso||Michael Dee||9||55kg||$6.50|
|2||14||ATTRITION||Mitchell Freedman||Ms Jamie Kah||0.2L||7||57kg||$7|
|3||17e||JAPANESE EMPEROR (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Daniel Stackhouse||0.6L||8||57kg||$101|
|4||7||BANK MAUR||Richard Laming||Jye McNeil||1.35L||15||57kg||$31|
|5||8||AMENABLE||Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)||Damien Oliver||1.45L||1||57kg||$17|
|6||1||JACQUINOT||Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)||Damian Lane||1.65L||11||57kg||$2.70F|
|7||2||ELLIPTICAL||Anthony & Sam Freedman||Blake Shinn||2.4L||2||57kg||$5.50|
|8||5||VIRTUOUS CIRCLE (NZ)||Liam Howley||Blaike McDougall||2.6L||10||57kg||$101|
|9||9||ELKINGTON ROAD||Michael Moroney||Jamie Mott||3.35L||4||57kg||$31|
|10||6||THE FORTUNE TELLER||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||John Allen||4.85L||6||57kg||$31|
|11||16||LACED UP HEELS||Luke Fernie||Chris Parnham||5.6L||12||55kg||$51|
|12||4||MR MAESTRO (NZ)||Andrew Forsman||Ben Melham||6.85L||13||57kg||$31|
|13||11||MURAMASA||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Daniel Moor||6.95L||14||57kg||$51|
|F||12||MAXIMILLIUS||Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)||Ethan Brown||3||57kg||$26|
|F||13||HOLYMANZ (NZ)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Mark Zahra||5||57kg||$19|
|3||OSIPENKO (NZ)||Chris Waller||Luke Nolen||0|
|10||LINDERMANN||Chris Waller||Luke Nolen||0|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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