The feature is perhaps a runner or two short overall but it doesn't lack for chances with a good mix of interesting form. Grand Promenade, Persan, Mohican Heights and Through Irish Eyes have all bagged good recent wins and Miami Bound and Realm Of Flowers represent 'carnival form' coming through the Sydney Cup.
It's the first named that interests us most, with things potentially setting up for Grand Promenade. He doesn't have the form to match an on-song Persan or Miami Bound (her Tancred run repeated here would go a long way to winning it) but what he has is a not-so-secret weapon - the ability to roll forward in a staying race in Melbourne...
He was able to control a tempo at Sandown that makes for pretty sick reading for those that let him get away with it but it's been a recurring theme and we can either complain about it or ride the wave. There's a good chance that this will be run at a hack and that Grand Promenade will be well positioned when the test of speed, that these races continually seem to develop into, begins.
While he is yet to post ratings that could stamp him as the best horse here, he is hardly so exposed to say confidently that he isn't, and we can say that he is good enough to make the most of it if things get handed to him. At each way odds he is a bet to do so.
Hypnos returns to Melbourne from New Zealand for the first time since 2019 when a similar early winter campaign yielded three unplaced runs. On that evidence he holds a fringe hope here at best but since then he has picked up a pair of Group races back home in New Zealand and put up a career-best effort when placed at Riccarton last time.
It would be right to be sceptical of a career-best effort from a fairly well-tried five-year-old gelding but it did come, quite remarkably, at his first try over 2000m and the form is mighty hard to knock. He was strong home with a big gap back to third, a last-start stakes winner, and pressed a winner who was coming off winning the Awapuni Gold Cup and has been in fine form in top races in New Zealand.
As a rule the top tier in NZ is a long way short of the top tier in Australia but Hypnos faces a very off-season off-season handicap on Saturday at Flemington and it's a bit of a surprise that he doesn't come up favourite for all that he is a bit of an unknown quantity.
THE MELBOURNE MAIL
Bet Of The Day: Race 4 #4 Hypnos @ $4.40
Each Way Play: Race 6 #2 Grand Promenade @ $6.50