Winter plans for Kipkeino have gone smoothly and the well-performed jumper will strip at his best for this Saturday’s test.
The Sunray gelding will have his second start over fences this campaign in the Manawatu ITM Awapuni Hurdle (2900m).
“I’m very happy with him and he’s ready, but it is a good field and a big field so you never really know what can happen,” part-owner and trainer Lucy de Lautour said.
Kipkeino kicked off his campaign with an unplaced run in a highweight at Woodville before he ran fifth in a restricted open hurdle at Hastings. At his most recent appearance, he finished a creditable sixth on the flat in an open handicap behind the Group performer Doiknowyou.
“He had that run to keep him ticking over and to get a bit more fitness,” de Lautour said.
“He got around quite well for a rising 11-year-old.”
Kipkeino has won three times over the smaller fences, including last season’s Hawke’s Bay Hurdle (3100m) and he also finished third in the Great Northern Hurdle (4900m).
“The Northern’s not at Ellerslie this year obviously, but he may run in it again,” de Lautour said.
“I’d like to see how he comes through his next few races first.” Safely through Awapuni, Kipkeino’s next mission will be to defend his Hawke’s Bay title won in 2017 at the expense of Justa Charlie and Sea King.