Group 2 winner Seventh Up will make his raceday return on Saturday when he contests the Trigg Construction (1200m) at Ruakaka.
The Shelley Hale-trained eight-year-old has been spelling since contesting all three legs of the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival last year and Hale said she has taken a patient approach with the son of Shinko King. “There’s been no particular reason (for the eight month break),” Hale said. “I just wasn’t that happy with the way he was looking, so I decided to give him a long spell. “The whole spring prep was very rushed for him, he just never quite caught up with himself. I felt like I put him under the pump, so I just wanted to give him a good break to recover. “Since he’s come back he looks really good.”
Hale was pleased with his spring campaign last year, and is eyeing a return to Hastings next term with a particular aim towards the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m), a race he finished fourth in last year. “I thought they (Foxbridge Plate and Windsor Park Plate) were both good runs. The Livamol (Group 1, 2040m) was his first try at 2000m and maybe he just didn’t see it out (finishing 12th).
“He has always shown a bit of class, so maybe a mile is his best trip now. “I am going to potter with him during the winter and hopefully have him nice and fit for spring racing. “We might go to the Opunake Cup (Listed, 1400m) and then we might try and freshen him up. “As long as we have got good form in our next couple of starts, if he didn’t get to the Foxbridge (Group 2, 1200m) I wouldn’t be too concerned, and it wouldn’t worry me too much if we missed the Tarzino (Group 1, 1400m) and went straight to the Windsor Park.”
While Saturday will be Seventh Up’s first raceday start in eight months, Hale was buoyed by his 935m trial win at Cambridge last month heading into Saturday. “I’ve taken plenty of encouragement out of the 900m trial at Cambridge. It’s hard to get back and come and win and he did that,” she said. “I don’t know how strong it was, but he did all we could ask of him. He looks really well, so it just proved that he is feeling good. “He is getting a little bit longer in the tooth now, but he still wants to do it, so I am pretty happy with him.”
Seventh Up has drawn the outside gate in the eight horse field on Saturday and will carry 60kg in the 1200m event. “The outside gate doesn’t help us a lot,” Hale said. “It might be a bit tough over 1200m first- up, but he is pretty well and bright. “We are giving everything else six kilos as well. It’s a bit tough, but Grant (Cooksley, jockey) is pretty keen to keep riding this horse. “I certainly can’t label him over 1200m up there, but he is going well and looks well, I am very happy with him.”
Seventh Up will be joined on the trip north by stablemate Go Nicholas. The seven-year-old gelding has been unplaced in his last three starts and Hale is hoping they can get a result on Saturday if he can jump away well from barrier two in the Northland Veterinary Group (1400m). “We are going to try and get him out of the gates and get him going,” she said. “He’s just switched off a bit mentally, there’s nothing wrong with the horse physically. “I did my fast work on Monday morning and he galloped brilliantly. He’s just giving them too big of a start, he’s giving them six to eight lengths out of the gate and just can’t make that up at the finish. “We have got Matthew Cameron on him hoping that he can get him a bit fired up and a bit motivated. “The horse has been working well enough to go a really good race, so I hope he can do what he has shown us he is still capable of doing.”
If Go Nicholas can strike some form in the next month, Hale said he is a chance of targeting the Opunake Cup next month as well. “I thought as an older horse now we’ll probably just keep him ticking over through the winter, but I haven’t picked out anything specifically. “If he can regain some of his old form then he’s an Opunake Cup-type horse as well. We’ll just see how he goes on Saturday.”