Seventh Up won the Easter last year and will be back to defend his title on Saturday.
Cambridge owner-trainer-breeder Shelley Hale is double-handed in her quest for back-to-back wins in the Gr. 2 Manco Easter Handicap.
Hale won the 1600-metre feature at Ellerslie last year with Seventh Up, who will return to defend his title on Saturday at the substitute venue of Pukekohe. He will be joined by Go Nicholas, who confirmed a shot at the $100,000 feature with a fast-finishing third over 1400 metres at Te Rapa two days ago.
“He’ll have a go at the Easter as well – I was happy enough with his run on Saturday,” Hale told www.theinformant.co.nz. “He hit the line hard and seems to be looking for a mile.
“Seventh Up ran well last start without a lot of luck (fifth in the Gr. 2 Japan-NZ Trophy, and 2.3 lengths from the winner Ocean Emperor). The track was a little bit tricky as well and he wasn’t entirely comfortable, but it was a good enough effort anyway.
“He’s done everything right since then, he’s been working well and he’s on target for Saturday.”
Seventh Up will be partnered once again by Grant Cooksley, who has been in the saddle for 14 of his 20 starts and six of his eight wins including last year’s Easter.
Cooksley has also been the regular rider for Go Nicholas, with a replacement yet to be confirmed.
“We’ll just wait and see how the weights look before we finalise anything,” Hale said.