Pressure off stronger Legarto in Australian Cup

Punters to see an obvious change as Legarto heads in the right direction at Flemington.

Legarto winning the Australian Guineas at Flemington in Australia.
Legarto winning the Australian Guineas at Flemington in Australia. Picture: Racing Photos

Legarto is a horse that veteran trainer Ken Kelso says is flying under the radar as the likes of Mr Brightside and Pride Of Jenni dominate the spotlight towards the Australian Cup on Saturday.

Not that Kelso minds as the 2023 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) winner returns to Flemington less talked about in the lead-up, and that the mare will start at a price beyond her regular odds-on quotes over recent starts in New Zealand.

Now a four-year-old, Legarto arrived at Mike Moroney's Flemington stable on Wednesday night after which Kelso said her visit this time has a brightly matured mare ready to step out in the $3 million 2000-metre feature.

"She's not getting a lot of coverage," Kelso observed.

"But that is good because every time she runs in New Zealand she goes around at $1.50.

"That takes the pressure off."

Legarto finished a narrow second in the Group 1 Bonecrusher Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on March 9 and before that won the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa a month before.

"If you take a line through her Australian Guineas form, I think she is better left-handed," he added.

"She's been beaten twice at Ellerslie (racing in a clockwise direction) and run second coming home late, but since the new track at Ellerslie has been there it seems to be on-pace biased so I wouldn't take too much out of those two defeats.

"She won the Herbie Dyke Stakes left-handed, so I have got that feeling that she is better that way."

Retirement beckoned for Kelso before he achieved his aim of winning a group one race in Australia which Legarto achieved for him with that Guineas win, but with the mare continuing her top-level pursuits the want to exit the training ranks has been put on hold.

"She's bigger and stronger now (but) this will be her final race this preparation.

"The owners are harbouring thoughts of the Cox Plate, but we'll get out there on Saturday and go from there."

Michael Dee again partners Legarto at Flemington with the pair rated a $9 chance across markets.

Mr Brightside is the $2.80 favourite with Pride Of Jenni at $3.