Robert Wellwood Thriving in New Partnership
Rookie trainer Robert Wellwood took his young career to new heights at Ellerslie’s iconic Boxing Day race meeting this week.
Less than five months into his partnership with respected Cambridge horseman Roger James, Wellwood saddled his first feature-race winner in the Listed Shaw’s Wire Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes.
Hypnos, ridden by teenaged apprentice Ryan Elliot, burst through an inside gap to defeat the favourite Dawn Patrol in an exciting finish to the $60,000 three-year-old event.
Around 24 hours after he stood on the Ellerslie podium in front of a big Boxing Day crowd, a delighted Wellwood reflected on his landmark achievement.
“It was a pretty exciting day,” he said. “It was very rewarding. On a big day like Boxing Day, it’s a really special thing to have any winner, but a stakes winner was just on another level. I couldn’t really believe it.”
Still in his early 20s, Wellwood was immersed in racing from a young age and had aspirations of a jockey career until he grew too tall.
He completed a Bachelor of Business Analysis degree, majoring in finance, and while studying he rode trackwork at Cambridge for Tony Pike. He also worked at Windsor Park Stud and Lime Country Thoroughbreds.
James hired Wellwood in December of 2016 and he served as his racing manager last season, overseeing Australian campaigns with stable runners Von Tunzelman and Sherrif.
The pair went into a training partnership at the beginning of this season, and together they have trained 15 winners. Stakes success with Hypnos has been an obvious highlight, with Elate also placing in the Gr. 3 Eulogy Stakes.
“I’m really happy with how our partnership has started – it’s been super,” Wellwood said. “The horses are flying. We’ve got some nice and untried horses who are showing a lot of promise, so hopefully there’s a lot more to come.”
James has taken a number of young trainers under his wing during his career, and earlier this year he spoke highly of his latest protégé’s abilities and potential.
“I’ve had Ross Taylor, Lance Noble and Leanne Bertling in partnerships in the past and they’ve all gone on to successful levels,” he said.
“Rob’s been with me for going on two years and he’s got a passion for the industry and he’s a very good people person.
“Rob’s a very good horseman and I’m proud to bring him into partnership. It’s not an easy game and I’m happy to give younger people a chance.”
The James-Wellwood partnership will chase further big-race spoils in the coming weeks, with Hypnos likely to step up to Group One level in the Levin Classic at Trentham on January 12 and Elate stepping up over a middle-distance in the Gr. 2 Valachi Downs Royal Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
“Elate ran a super race for second in the Eulogy, and the winner (Queen of Diamonds) is a quality filly,” Wellwood said.
“Our filly is certainly looking for more of a staying trip, and she’ll get that for the first time on New Year’s Day. We’re really looking forward to seeing her step up over that sort of distance.
“We’ll make sure Hypnos has come through his Boxing Day win in good order, but at this stage he’s likely to head for the Levin Classic as his next step. After that, he could possibly go through to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (Ellerslie, January 26), but for now we’ll just take things one step at a time.”