I Do inspiration for Kelso’s Makfi bid

Ken Kelso wants to complete his own Hastings triple crown.

The Matamata trainer and his wife Bev will saddle last year’s runner-up Pussy O’Reilly for Saturday’s Gr.1 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m), the only leg of the Hastings weight-for-age series the stable has yet to win.

Xanadu won the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) in 2013, while Love Dance claimed the Gr.1 Kelt Capital Stakes (2040), now known as the Livamol Classic, in 1996.

“It would be good to get a winner in the only triple crown leg we’re missing,” Kelso said.

“We won the other two legs and we’ve twice had the runner-up in the first one. Xanadu was second [in 2012] and Pussy O’Reilly finished second last year.”

Kelso is drawing confidence from last year’s result in the leadup to Pussy O’Reilly’s run this weekend – and not just from her gallant second in the race behind I Do.

“We’re taking a line through I Do last year. She was a seven-year-old mare last year and Pussy O’Reilly is seven this year,” Kelso said.

“They raced I Do through the spring and got her in foal and it’s going to be the same scenario with Pussy O’Reilly. It made sense to keep her going for this.”

Raced by Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan along with her co-breeder Peter Walker, Pussy O’Reilly is a $31 outsider on the TAB’s fixed-odds market for the race, but Kelso believes the five-win mare is capable of springing an upset.

“She’s very under-rated and I’d like to think she’ll go a good race,” he said.

“I’m quite happy with her fitness and demeanour going into the race. She’s got a good draw [barrier one] and she wasn’t far away after a tough run in the race last year.

“She’s equally as forward as she was last year when she ran second in the Foxbridge Plate beforehand. We elected to bypass that this time but we went to the trials instead. She’s had two trials and I was pleased with her trial at Taupo. We’re just hoping for a reasonable track.”

The Hastings track was rated a slow seven on Thursday morning but with fine weather and forecast drying conditions, the track was expected to improve into the dead range.

The Kelsos have booked Michael McNab to ride Pussy O’Reilly and he was at Matamata to rider her in her main trackwork gallop on Tuesday.

“We’ve put the hood on her for this weekend and she worked well in it on Tuesday when Michael came over to ride her,” Kelso said. – NZ Racing Desk

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