Kingsclere Stables will traverse the Tasman tomorrow as Hypnos continues his campaign in Melbourne, while Killarney, Hanger and newcomer Even Chance compete at Ruakaka.
Roger James is in Melbourne as Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) runner-up Hypnos prepares for tomorrow's Ladbrokes Odds Boost Handicap (1600m) at Sandown, while training partner Robert Wellwood is charged with applying the finishing polish to the Ruakaka team.
Wellwood said reports from James were positive on Hypnos.
"His work has been right up to scratch so we'd like to think he could go close to a win.
"We've dropped him back from 3-year-old company to a Benchmark 78 mile even though it was a pretty good run last time (for sixth at Caulfield). But the winner carried 9 kilos less, the second horse 8 kilos less and the third horse 9 kilos less, so it looks like he's weighted out of those three-year-old races.
"He's got 61 kilos this weekend but we're claiming a couple off with Michael Poy. He'll probably have this run over there and one more. We could maybe look at the Winter Championship Final at Listed level (over 1600m at Flemington on July 6)." Closer to home James and Wellwood will produce O'Reilly geldings Killarney and Hanger in the Northland Veterinary Group 1400 at Ruakaka.
A winner of five of his 14 starts and tested in the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham in January, Killarney had zipped home for fourth in a trial leading up to his resuming run at Ellerslie last month but could only manage ninth placing in open company.
"He was going really well into it but as a big, older horse he might have just needed the run," Wellwood said.
"It's no secret he's had a lot of soundness issues over time. There doesn't seem to be anything worrying him at the moment, but for that reason you do have to take him on trust. Nothing really made ground in that race but he should have gone a couple of lengths better. That race should have brought him on though and he's working well."
Hanger was a late scratching on race morning for an Ellerslie race last month but Wellwood said the minor hoof issue that led to his withdrawal had resolved itself quickly and he was on track for tomorrow's race.
"He does a lot of things wrong. He can get over-racing and not breathing right but if the race runs his way, he's certainly got the ability to win," Wellwood said.
"Our niggle is drawing barrier nine but if he can get a nice run in behind them and he relaxes well he can certainly be winning."
The stable's other runner is O'Reilly gelding Even Chance, who makes his debut in the Whangarei Bus Service 1400 after finishing second at last month's Cambridge trials.
"He trialled well at the start of the season but then he tweaked a joint. We've been patient with him. We've been really happy with him. He went a nice trial on a wet track. He'll be a nice horse next year over a mile and 2000m."
Meanwhile, Rondinella is set to kick off her spring campaign in the Gr.1 A$1 million NZ Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 1, Wellwood has revealed.
Placed in the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie and the Gr.1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Randwick before finishing fourth in the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) during the autumn, Rondinella has returned to training with Wellwood and James.
"She's back and she looks great," Wellwood said.
"She'll probably have an exhibition gallop here and a trial at Taupo or Te Teko then we'll take her straight to Melbourne.
"She'll kick off in the Memsie and then we'll pick a path to the Caulfield Cup (Gr.1, 2400m) or the Cox Plate (Gr.1, 2040m) depending on how her form is going."
- NZ Racing Desk