Race-fitness proved a key role in the final outcome of the first black-type feature at Ellerslie yesterday when promising three-year-old Hypnos downed race-favourite Dawn Patrol in the Listed Shaw’s Wire Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m).
Cambridge trainer Frank Ritchie had warned that Dawn Patrol could be found wanting over the final stages of the contest given he was going into the race fresh-up following his gallant run for second in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton last month.
That scenario played out to the letter as Dawn Patrol looked the likely winner at the 150m mark before Hypnos produced a strong finishing burst to dash past the favourite and cruise to the line under a hands and heels ride by rider Ryan Elliot.
Co-trainer Roger James was delighted with the result as he prepares the Reliable Man gelding for long-time stable supporters, Ron and Fran Dixon.
“It’s wonderful to train another good horse for Ron and Fran,” James said. “They were my first ever owners and the first people I ever bought a yearling for — and that is a long time ago.
“They have stuck with me through thick and thin.
“We won a Derby on Boxing Day with Hades, an Eight Carat on Boxing Day with Hera and we’ve backed it up with another stakes race on Boxing Day, so we’ve had a lot of good times together and I think we can have more with this horse.”
James, who prepares his charge with training partner Robert Wellwood, indicated Hypnos was likely to be seen next in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) on January 12 at Trentham.
He is also considering a return to Ellerslie for the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) on March 2.
James has prepared five winners of the New Zealand Derby, but was unsure whether Hypnos was the horse to provide him with his sixth winner of the blue riband event.
“He’s a horse that has taken a bit of making, but he is getting better with every run and he may well be a Derby horse,” he said.
Rider Ryan Elliot was taken by the effort of his charge on a tricky Heavy10 surface.
“It is quite puggy out there and I think the fittest horse in the race won,” Elliot said.
“He can do a lot wrong and he can pull quite hard, but if he relaxes in a race he can get home quite strongly.
“I wanted to get on the back of Jason Waddell (on favourite Dawn Patrol) and just follow him into the race.
“I was lucky enough that Dawn Patrol kicked away and I was able to follow him through the same spot.”
Purchased by James for $50,000 out of the Westbury Stud draft at the 2017 Select Sale at Karaka, Hypnos was posting his second victory at just his sixth career start.
A brother to Hypnos will be offered by Westbury Stud as Lot 872 during the Book 2 session at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale Series at Karaka on January 31.
- NZ Racing Desk