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Gore galloper Nomen Ludi edged closer to a Winter Cup start when winning at Timaru yesterday.
The Ellis Winsloe-trained galloper continued his brilliant autumn and winter form when scoring in rating 82 company over 1600m.
Rider Terry Moseley had Nomen Ludi in his favoured position in the lead and the 5yr-old went on to score by a length and a-quarter.
The Nom De Jeu galloper was 26th on the order of entry for the next month's group 3 Winter Cup before his victory.
His winning handicap should put him within reach of gaining a start once other runners are withdrawn from the event later this month.
Just a nose separated the winner, Zentangle, and runner-up Cashel in a thrilling finish to yesterday's open hurdle event.
Though Cashel hit the front in the home straight, the Kevin Myers-trained Zentangle rallied hard and would not be denied victory at the post.
The North Island raider should strip fitter for his next hurdle start, as yesterday's race was his first jumping start since May.
The scratching of the $1.40 favourite, Delacroix, robbed yesterday's open steeplechase of some of its interest.
Another North Island raider, Doctor Hook, made the most of his first racetrack opportunity in more than 20 months in the event.
The Adrian Bull-trained 7yr-old had not raced since October of 2016 before winning yesterday.
The victory took Doctor Hook's record over steeples to two wins from three starts.