Hale’s team shaping well

Seventh Up and Grant Cooksley charging to victory over Massofdash at Ellerslie last December.

Seventh Up and Grant Cooksley charging to victory over Massofdash at Ellerslie last December. He is on track for rich pickings this campaign.

Trials results within the last week have been very encouraging for Cambridge trainer Shelley Hale, whose focus now shifts to Sunday’s Pukekohe meeting.

Hale has lined up four of her team of six horses at the latest two sets of Waikato trials with all competing at last Thursday’s Cambridge trials and two of them, Close Up and his four-year-old unraced brother, backing up at the Te Awamutu trials today.

Seventh Up and Go Nicholas completed the squad at last week’s Cambridge trials and the former will be first cab off the rank on raceday for the new season. Seventh Up has been nominated for two events at Pukekohe, a Rating 85 1200 and a Rating 75 1400.

“There’s rain forecast so the 1200 might be better for him, but I’ll wait and see,” said Hale.

Seventh Up has looked extra smart winning three of his eight starts and being placed on a further four occasions.

He created a big impression when storming home in the hands of Grant Cooksley to win over 1400 at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and ended his campaign with a win at Tauranga on March 26 when ridden by Mark Du Plessis in the absence of Cooksley, who was under suspension.

Cooksley was back aboard in the Cambridge trial and he was pleased with Seventh Up’s performance when finishing second, a length behind Chachar, in an open 935-metre heat.

“Cookie is keen to stick with him,” said Hale. “It will depend on if Seventh Up gets enough weight for him if we go for the Rating 85.”

Seventh Up has been nominated for the Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile at Riccarton on November 9, while his main long range mission is the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile at the Auckland Christmas-New Year carnival.

“It’s not set in stone to go for the Coupland’s Mile, but if he goes bang, bang with good runs in his first two runs we’ll have to seriously look at it,” said Hale.

Close Up, Seventh Up’s year older brother, finished fourth in an open 935-metre heat at Cambridge last Thursday and Hale took the opportunity to back him up at today’s Te Awamutu with the result being a win over 800 metres.

“I can’t work him on the sand – it’s too hard on his joints – and he needed to have another trial,” said Hale. “The next lot of trials are at Avondale, Te Teko and Ruakaka so it’s a lot closer to go to Te Awamutu.”

Close Up, a winner of six races and over $100,000 in prizemoney, had just two rivals in today’s trial and settled back and cruised home to win in a blanket finish with Ichiban and Savasava.

“He jarred up badly in his last race (at Ellerslie last Boxing Day) and hopefully I can get a couple into him before the tracks harden up too much,” said Hale. “He’ll probably go to the open 1200 at Ellerslie on the 24th (September). It’s either that or the Rating 85 1200 at Hastings on the last day.”

Also earmarked to resume at the Ellerslie meeting is Go Nicholas, who will contest a Rating 75 1200 metres after finishing third to Sleek Secret in an open 935-metre heat.

The five-year-old son of Danroad has won half of his six starts with each of his three wins being at Ellerslie over 1200 metres.

Though Hale’s unraced Shinko King four-year-old has a long way to go to match the deeds of his siblings Thumbs Up, Two Up, Sum Up, Close Up and Seventh Up, he is showing his share of promise.

He finished third in his first trial, over 800 metres at Cambridge last week, and filled the same placing at today’s Te Awamutu trials over the same trip.

“He’s a big goof and has got a lot to learn, but I was happy with his trial today,” said Hale. “Mark (Du Plessis) hauled him back in behind and he finished it off well.”