Hawke’s Bay targets for Close Up

Close Up (Grant Cooksley) beating Aide Memoire in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy.

Shelley Hale’s Group One winner Close Up is on track for a long-awaited return to the races.

 Last year’s Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy victor made his first appearance on a race track in nine months at the Te Rapa trials today and could be set for a race day return as soon as Saturday.

The Shinko King rising nine-year-old finished a long neck second to quality mare Melody Belle in a 900-metre heat on Te Rapa’s inside track and Hale was satisfied with his performance.

“I’m pretty happy with what I saw,” said the Cambridge horsewoman.

“It looked like they couldn’t do a lot with them on that track, but it’s a day out and he’s had a sweat, a shake and a gallop so we’re all good.”

Close Up hasn’t been seen since his seventh-placing in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings last year and Hale has given him plenty of time to recover.

“He pulled up a little sore after the Livamol so we gave him a good break and got him all over that,” said Hale.

Close Up had a standout spring last year, winning the Tarzino Trophy and being runner-up in the Gr.2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate (1200m) and Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m. Hale is eyeing a similar path this year, despite a recent hiccup in his preparation.

“He was actually ready to kick-off about a month ago, but he got a bit of colic and that just set him back a bit,” she said. “Now we’re just trying to make up lost time.

“He’ll have pretty similar spring targets (as last year). We’ll just see how he gets through this. He could even kick-off at Te Rapa this Saturday in the open 1200. He’ll step out pretty soon.

“I’m very happy with how he went today. He has pulled up well.”

– NZ Racing Desk.