‘Close’ Aims to Keep Crown Hopes Alive

By Heather Anderson

Hastings hosts the second leg of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown Saturday, the 1600m NZ$200,000 G1 Windsor Park Horlicks Plate, and first-leg winner, Close Up (NZ) (Shinko King {NZ}) returns to the scene of his greatest success. The 8-year-old gelding saluted in the G1 Tarzino Trophy over 1400 metres in slow going on Sept. 2 following the defection of Stolen Dance (NZ) (Alamosa {NZ}). Tarzino placegetters G1SW Aide Memoire (NZ) (Remind) and Underthemoonlight (NZ) (El Hermano {NZ}) return to oppose, the latter holding Close Up safe in second in the G2 Foxbridge Plate going 1200 metres on Aug. 19.
“He’s in pretty good nick,” trainer Shelley Hale, who’s Close Up is only equal seventh favourite at $15, told www.nzracing.co.nz. “He seems to be every bit as good going into this one, as he was before the Tarzino Trophy. He’s only had two goes at weight-for-age for a second in the Foxbridge Plate and his Group 1 win. You can’t get much better than that. We have a little query with him at a mile, but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. He’s never got the opportunities over longer trips before because we’ve tended to give him light preps. You’ve got to be realistic. It’s a Group 1 race and they are blinking hard to win.”
Joint favourites for the Windsor Park Plate are $4.50 chances Kawi (NZ) (Savabeel {Aus}), fourth when the crowd’s pick in the Tarzino after a tardy beginning who went one better than rapidly closing 2017 G1 New Zealand Derby hero Gingernuts (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}). The former, third behind Underthemoonlight and Close Up in the Foxbridge Plate, landed this race in 2016 and is hunting for his seventh top-shelf victory. Te Akau Racing’s gelded son of Iffraaj scooped the G1 Rosehill Guineas across the Tasman Sea last season and will return to Australia later on this campaign.

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