Talented three-year-old Hypnos is being set for his first tilt at elite level when he lines-up in the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday.
Trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood have taken a patient approach with the son of Reliable Man, which is starting to pay dividends for the Cambridge conditioners.
“He’s been a horse that we have had to make along the process,” Wellwood said.
“He wasn’t a ready-made racehorse, but he is certainly going the right way and we have been very happy with his form of late.”
That good form includes placing in the Gr.3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie last month before returning to the track on Boxing Day to take out the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m).
“I thought his run in the Uncle Remus was super,” Wellwood said. “He’s a horse that has been known to over-race a little bit, but he relaxed reasonably nicely.
“He was probably one of the fitter in-form horses and it was a wet track, so it was certainly his day.”
Wellwood has been happy with Hypnos’ progress since that victory and said his only concern heading into the race is drawing barrier nine in the eleven horse field.
“He’s been great since Boxing Day, he has actually been handling his preparation well. He eats well and is a real professional athlete and we’re really happy with the way he has progressed on from there,” he said.
“The draw is the real niggle, we would have loved an inside draw. We’re not 100 percent sure of how we’re going to ride him yet.
“It’s only a small field, so we have just got to hope that he has a bit of luck and gets a bit of an economical run. I am sure he will be there or thereabouts.”
Bookmakers have set Hypnos as a $5.50 second-favourite for the Group One mile behind Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Madison County (barrier one), with Lincoln Falls (barrier 10) labelled a $6 chance.
While their sights are firmly set on Trentham on Saturday with Hypnos, Kingsclere Stables are eyeing a possible tilt at the rich Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) later this month with the $50,000 New Zealand Bloodstock yearling sale purchase.
“Depending on how he comes through Wellington, he may look to head to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic,” Wellwood said.
“The million dollar race would likely be his last run this preparation, he’s had a rather big preparation.”