Close Up late entry for Livamol
Grant Cooksley has had to cancel his travel plans with the decision by Shelley Hale to make the late entry for Close Up into the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings on Saturday.
Cooksley has been Close Up’s regular rider this year and the pair have combined for a win in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and a close second to Gingernuts in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m), the first two legs of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown, plus a second in the Gr.2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa.
Close Up (yellow silks) defeats Aide Memoire in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m)
Photo: Trish Dunell
As Close Up wasn’t an original entry for the Livamol Classic, Cooksley booked a week-long Thailand holiday with his family, but the ‘Ice Man’ isn’t concerned that he has had to pull out of the trip.
“I can take a holiday any time,” he said. “I don’t want to miss riding him on Saturday. He deserves a go at that race.
“It was a top run last time and if I’d drawn out a bit more he would have been harder to beat. From his inside draw I had to try and push out and he got on the bit to keep up there.
“He should be able to settle better over ground.”
Close Up has yet to be tried beyond 1600 metres, but Hale believes he warrants a late nomination for the 2040-metre feature.
“It’s just because of soreness that he has never got to extend out to a trip,” Hale said. “He’s had four or five runs then felt it.”
Hale has purposely waited to see how Close Up came through the Windsor Park Plate run before deciding to press ahead with the late payment of $1581 for the Livamol Classic.
“He’s done well and he’s proven himself at weight-for-age,” she said. “He’s in a purple patch of form and the only question mark is the distance but his family have gone over a bit of ground. I don’t think it will be a problem.
“He did a bit of work over ground last Friday and he worked nicely. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Hale was particularly pleased with his last-start second in the Windsor Park Plate.
“I think it showed some people his win in the Tarzino wasn’t a fluke,” the Cambridge trainer said.
Close Up has won a third of his 30 starts and earned almost $350,000 in prizemoney for Hale and her other partners in the Shinko King eight-year-old, co-owner-breeders, Robin Stent and the Noel and Alison Johnstone Family Trust.
Hale is likely to freshen Close Up after Saturday’s Livamol Classic.
“The next big one is the Captain Cook Stakes, but there’s a big gap to that,” she said. “He’d have done enough by Saturday. He’s exceeded my expectations.” – NZ Racing Desk.