Cambridge trainer Shelley Hale expects Seventh Up to prove highly competitive when he attempts to defend his title in tomorrow's Gr2 Easter Handicap (1600m) at Pukekohe. "The only difference is last year he raced over 1200m then 1400m and this year it's been 1400m and 1600m," Hale told NZ racing Desk. "He's also gone up from 55 to 59 kilos, but I'm really happy with him. He's done plenty of work. He's ready." Seventh Up (Shinko King-Regelle, by Exploding Prospect) won when resuming over 1400m at Rotorua last month then backed up a week later and finished a creditable fifth behind Ocean Emperor in the Gr2 Windsor Park Stud Japan NZ International Trophy (1600m) at Matamata after being held up in the straight. Hale revealed a trip to Australia for the Brisbane winter carnival is on the cards for Seventh Up if he performs well. "Seventh Up might be better suited going for something like the Hollindale and Doomben Cups, but it will all depend on what he does on Saturday," she said.
Co-trainer Andrew Scott is expecting a bold showing from Sound Proposition if he can force his way into the field for Saturday's Gr1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in Brisbane, reports NZ Racing Desk. Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) was among the entries for last Saturday's Gr3 Chairman's Handicap at Doomben, but his trainers elected to bypass the feature and concentrate on the Doomben Cup. "As it turned out he was going to get 58 kilos and the weather was not the greatest," Scott said. "We felt it was better to sit back and wait for the Doomben Cup. He's still a wee way down the order, but hopefully he'll get in." Sound Proposition has had just two starts since a setback in the Gr1 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. "He had heart fibrillation on Boxing Day and has had an interrupted campaign in New Zealand this season," Scott said. "He seems fine now and has settled in well in Brisbane. This is his main goal." Sound Proposition's two starts this year have resulted in a third in the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes behind Lizzie L'Amour at Ellerslie on March 16 then a fifth to Seventh Up in the Gr2 Easter Stakes, a race he won in 2016 when it carried Group One status.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, deceased Gr1-winning stallion Shinko King (Fairy King-Rose Of Jericho, by Alleged) added a Group success when 6YO New Zealand-bred gelding Seventh Up (Shinko King-Regelle, by Exploding Prospect) powered home to claim his maiden stakes victory in the $200,000 Gr2 Easter Stakes (1600m) for 3YO+, defeating Hiflyer & Let Me Roar. "Wow, I just wish it was still a Group One as I think he is a Group One horse," trainer, part-owner and co-breeder Shelley Hale told NZ Racing Desk. "I'm thrilled to bits and quite overcome by it all. He's a neat horse and it's just lovely to see him get such a good win." Seventh Up improved his record to 7 wins and 4 placings from 16 starts for NZ$239,260 earnings.