Group Two winner Seventh Up will make his raceday return on Saturday when he contests the Trigg Construction (1200m) at Ruakaka.
The Shelley Hale-trained 8-year-old has been spelling since contesting all three legs of the Hawke's Bay Spring Carnival last year and Hale said she has taken a patient approach with the son of Shinko King.
"There's been no particular reason (for the eight month break)," Hale said. "I just wasn't that happy with the way he was looking, so I decided to give him a long spell.
"The whole spring prep was very rushed for him, he just never quite caught up with himself. I felt like I put him under the pump, so I just wanted to give him a good break to recover.
"Since he's come back he looks really good."
Hale was pleased with his spring campaign last year, and is eyeing a return to Hastings next term with a particular aim towards the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m), a race he finished fourth in last year.
"I thought they (Foxbridge Plate and Windsor Park Plate) were both good runs. The Livamol (Gr.1, 2040m) was his first try at 2000m and maybe he just didn't see it out (finishing 12th).
"He has always shown a bit of class, so maybe a mile is his best trip now.
"We might go to the Opunake Cup (Listed, 1400m) and then we might try and freshen him up.
"If he didn't get to the Foxbridge (Gr.2, 1200m) I wouldn't be too concerned, and it wouldn't worry me too much if we missed the Tarzino (Gr.1, 1400m) and went straight to the Windsor Park." While Saturday will be Seventh Up's first raceday start in eight months, Hale was buoyed by his 935m trial win at Cambridge last month heading into Saturday.
"I've taken plenty of encouragement out of the 900m trial at Cambridge. It's hard to get back and come and win and he did that," she said.
Seventh Up has drawn the outside gate in the eight horse field on Saturday and will carry 60kg in the 1200m event. "The outside gate doesn't help us a lot," Hale said. "It might be a bit tough over 1200m first-up, but he is pretty well and bright.
"We are giving everything else six kilos as well. It's a bit tough, but Grant (Cooksley, jockey) is pretty keen to keep riding this horse."
Seventh Up will be joined on the trip north by stablemate Go Nicholas.
The seven-year-old has been unplaced in his last three starts and Hale is hoping they can get a result on Saturday if he can jump away well from barrier two in the Northland Veterinary Group (1400m).
"We have got Matthew Cameron on him hoping that he can get him a bit fired up and a bit motivated."
- NZ Racing Desk