Cambridge trainer Shelley Hale hasn't put all her eggs in one Easter basket.
A switch in plans will see Hale chase two stakes races within five days with Seventh Up and Go Nicholas rather than start them both in the Gr.2 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m) at Pukekohe today.
Seventh Up is on target in an attempt to defend his Easter Handicap crown, but Hale has opted to reserve Go Nicholas for the Listed Manawatu ITM 1550 at Awapuni next Wednesday.
"There's nothing wrong with Go Nicholas. It's just the ground on Saturday is likely to be a heavy10 and that would be too much for him," she said.
"If it was 1200 metres I would probably give it a whirl, but a mile is at the end of his range."
Unlike Go Nicholas, Seventh Up prefers wet tracks and has the excellent record on heavy footing of four wins and a second from five attempts.
Grant Cooksley has been Seventh Up's regular rider, having been aboard in all bar six of his 20 starts. His record on the seven-year-old son of Shinko King includes six wins and four placings. He has been the rider in each of the horse's last seven starts, including last year's Manco Easter Handicap in which he timed his run to perfection when Seventh Up charged home late to grab the honours by a long neck from Hiflyer.
Seventh Up went into last year's Easter with two lead-up runs and Hale has adopted the same approach this time. "The only difference is last year he raced over 1200m then 1400m and this year it's been 1400m and 1600m," Hale said. "He's also gone up from 55 to 59 kilos, but I'm really happy with him. He's ready."
Seventh Up won fresh-up over 1400m at Rotorua last month then backed up a week later and finished a creditable fifth behind Ocean Emperor in the Gr.2 Japan - NZ International Trophy (1600m) at Matamata after being held up in the run home.
- NZ Racing Desk