(By John Jenkins)
Matamata trainer Ken Kelso paid Supera the ultimate compliment after her dominant win in today’s Group 2 $100,000 Travis Stakes at Te Rapa when he said she was right up with the best mares he has prepared.
Kelso, who nowadays operates in partnership with his wife Bev and Mark Donoghue, has been training thoroughbreds for more than 30 years and has had numerous topliners pass through his stables among his 247 winners.
One of the best has been the Elusive City mare Xanadu, whose six wins included two Group 1 events in 2013, the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha and the Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings.
Supera capped an outstanding season with a 1-3/4 length victory in today’s 2000m feature, coming from well off the pace in the early stages to make a sustained run around the field and finish the race off strongly.
The Savabeel four-year-old has proven a model of consistency throughout her current campaign that commenced back in October with a fresh-up victory over 1400m at Te Aroha. She has had six starts since for another three wins, a second and a third.
“We’ve had a lot of good mares over the years and she is right up there with them,” Ken Kelso said.
Patience has been the key for Supera’s trainers as they have slowly progressed the Sir Peter Vela-owned mare through the grades.
“We’ve played the patient game up until now and thank Sir Peter for allowing us to do the job that we’ve done,” Kelso added. “We’ll just mosey along and see where we get with her.”
Ken Kelso had indicated he felt Supera would be at her best when tried over a middle-distance after she stormed home to be beaten by just a long head behind Nicoletta when finishing runner-up in the Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha at her last start.
That opportunity presented itself today where rider Michael Coleman displayed a steely nerve to settle Supera well off the pace before asking her to sustain a powerful finishing burst that carried her to an imposing victory over Awapuni visitor Jessiegee.
“I thought she was further back than what we initially thought she would be, but she was nice and relaxed and lobbing along,” Kelso said.
“There was a bit of speed in the race, so we always thought if she was our best, she would get over the top of them.
“She’s very special.”
Kelso indicated this would be the last run for Supera before she heads for a break with bigger things expected from her in the spring.
“She’s going to go out now,” he said.
“She’s come a long way, so she can have a nice break.
“She won’t be out too long and we’ll bring her back and set her for something through the spring.
Bred by Sir Peter Vela’s Pencarrow Thoroughbreds, Supera is the daughter of unraced Van Nistelrooy mare, Sopra Tutto who is the daughter of his dual Caulfield and Melbourne Cup winner, Ethereal.
She is the younger half-sister to multiple Group 3 winner and Group 1 placed mare, Eleonora along with handy stayer Sopraffina.