Retirement for Hale’s star

Group One winner Close Up has been retired. Photo: Kenton Wright – Race Images Northern

The racing days are over for Close Up, the horse who motivated Shelley Hale back into training after a serious illness.

Close Up was scheduled to run in the Group 3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie on Saturday, but instead he will be beginning his retirement on Hale’s property.

“He’s feeling the wear and tear on his fetlock joints so we’ve decided to retire him,” Hale said.

“He had a trial at Matamata on Tuesday and I was happy enough with his run (for third), but there was a bit of swelling afterward. “It’s not as bad as we first thought, but we don’t want to risk racing him anymore.”

Close Up credited Hale with her first Group 1 success when he won last year’s Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings in the hands of regular rider Grant Cooksley.

Either side of the win he had been runner-up, chasing Underthemoonlight home in the Group 2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa in the lead-up, then going down narrowly to Gingernuts in the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings. Close Up won 10 of his 34 starts and was placed on a further 10 occasions.

A nine-year-old son of Shinko King, he is from the prolific broodmare Regelle, who has a 100 percent strike- rate with her eight foals to race.

Regelle’s progeny includes fellow major winners Thumbs Up (Group 2 winner in Hong Kong) and Seventh Up (Group 2 Easter Stakes, 1600m) and the Group 2-placed Sum Up (six wins).

Winning the Tarzino Trophy is obviously the highlight of Hale’s training career, but Close Up means even more to the Cambridge horsewoman for another reason. Hale was hospitalised with cancer four years ago and during her time being treated for the illness she sent Close Up to Matamata trainer Mark Lupton, who enjoyed success with the talented sprinter-miler.

That success was the driving force behind Hale returning to training once she had recovered from the series of operations.

“Closey was a big motivating factor in me getting well and back training,” Hale said. “I’ll forever be grateful to him. I owe him so much.

“I never expected him to go to such heights that he did.”

Close Up will now enjoy his retirement on Hale’s property. “He can be a Group 1 winner one day and babysitting the yearlings the next. That’s the type of horse he is,” Hale said.

“He can stay here and look after the young ones.”

Close Up was bred by Hale in partnership with Noel Johnstone and Robin Stent and was raced by the trio with the family trust taking over Johnstone’s share after his death.

The same group also bred and race Close Up’s year younger brother Seventh Up, who was fourth to Melody Belle in the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings two starts ago and hasn’t raced since finishing unplaced in the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m).

“He’s had leg problems and is out for three months,” Hale said. “Hopefully he’s back in work later in January.”