Bounding sails to finish line
Naturally gifted 2-yearolds aren’t commonplace in the Ken and Bev Kelso stable, but the Banks Rd training couple have one out of the box in the unbeaten filly Bounding.
On Saturday at Pukekohe, Bounding proved too slick for her rivals in the Murdoch Newell Stakes, adding that to the debut win she posted last month at Ellerslie.
Some might say the result could have been different if the other unbeaten filly in the race, Ruud Awakening, hadn’t muffed the start.
But there was no denying Bounding’s dominance after she had cruised along outside the leader and then produced her electric turn of foot when Vinnie Colgan pressed the button.
What we’re seeing now could be described as the logical outcome for a filly with the pedigree and looks that saw her make A$425,000 as a yearling in April.
That’s what her Tirau owner Gary Harding had to outlay after he and Ken Kelso had travelled to Sydney on a mission.
Having scanned the Inglis Sale catalogue, the bay filly by champion racehorse and sire Lonhro from the former smart two year old Believe’N’Succeed, was the one they put at the top of their list. They weren’t the only discerning judges taken by Lot 65, but Gary wouldn’t be denied as she went to the top of the list of six-figure sale-ring purchases he has made over the years.
Gary and Linda Harding have struck up a rewarding association with the Kelsos since moving north from Hawke’s Bay several years ago.
The attraction to relocate was their purchase of the Benjamin family’s former Fayette Park stud property, where their select group of thoroughbreds has been based along with an extensive kennel of racing greyhounds, many of them with the Thrilling prefix in their names and responsible for a string of major race wins on both sides of the Tasman.
While Bounding’s stake earnings after two starts amount to less than one tenth of her purchase price, Saturday’s win went a long way to establishing a value in keeping with what she cost. But after making his mark in the construction industry, Gary was quick to point out that as far as his racing pursuits go, he places enjoyment well ahead of any monetary reward.
‘‘It’s not the money, it’s the enjoyment,’’ he said as Vinnie Colgan brought Bounding back to scale in the familiar white with orange spots colours.
‘‘It’s a big thrill when any of my horses win and especially with a filly like this.’’
Two days earlier the Hardingowned Traveller had been just as impressive when scoring on his home track in his first test at a middle-distance, confirming the belief that as a son of champion staying sire Zabeel he would find his true form over ground.
There’s a lot of satisfaction also in the achievements of another of the Harding-owned, Kelso-trained string – 3-year-old filly Fix, who finished third in the Group I New Zealand 1000 Guineas at Riccarton 10 days ago. Until Bounding came along she was the best performed 2-year-old from the Kelso stable in recent times, with wins in her first two starts last summer and a fifth placing in the Group I Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Fix won on debut at Te Aroha in mid-February, but as that race fell just eight days before the Group II J Swap Matamata Breeders’ Stakes, the decision was made not to back her up in Matamata’s flagship race. The Kelsos have had just one Matamata Breeders’ Stakes runner, fifth placegetter Groundless Threats in 1996.
‘‘Over the years we just haven’t had many of those precocious 2-year-old types,’’ says Bev.
‘‘Ken and Gary went to the Sydney sales with the intention to buy a 2-year-old type and that’s what they’ve come up with.
‘‘She’s a lovely filly, so natural and easy in everything she does – and she can gallop.’’
Bounding and Fix are now at home with their owner while plans are made for the second half of their respective seasons.
Fix will be back in the stable first, with her return to racing scheduled for the Eight Carat Stakes at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, while the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes will be her stablemate’s summer target.
‘‘Fix is due back in next week and we’ll let her have a gallop between races at the twilight meeting here a week before Ellerslie,’’ says Ken.
‘‘She’s shown she can run 1600 metres and she’ll tell us whether she wants to step up further in distance.
‘‘The Breeders’ Stakes in February is the race for the other filly.
‘‘Being locals it’s a race we’d love to win and it will give us another line on where she’s up to.’’
In the back of connections’ minds is a nomination Bounding holds for the world’s richest twoyear-old race, the A$3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes in Sydney next autumn. Gary was one of more than 1000 like-minded owners to throw in a nomination when Golden Slipper entries closed in June.
‘‘Hey, at this stage it’s only a pipe dream,’’ says Ken. ‘‘She was a quality filly when Gary bought her and everything she’s done since tells us she’s well above average.
‘‘The plan was always to turn her out after the Pukekohe race and it’s going to be interesting to see how she develops with a month or so off.
‘‘We feel pretty lucky to have a guy like Gary involving us with such quality horses and it’s great when you can deliver with a win like that on Saturday.’’
Xanadu, one member of the Kelso team that does not race in the Harding colours, is back in the stable after a let-up that followed her sterling efforts at the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival. Without a lot of luck she was placed in all three triple crown legs – second in the Makfi Challenge Stakes, third in the Windsor Park Plate and fourth in the NZB Insurance Spring Classic.
The 4-year-old has been nominated for the Telegraph Handicap, the major sprint at the Wellington summer carnival in late January, and all going to plan she will start fresh up in that race down the Trentham chute.
Special: Bounding gives Vinnie Colgan a sweet ride as she wins the Murdoch Newell Stakes at Pukekohe on Saturday.