Wise Men Say on target for Grand National

Wise Men Say (Isaac Lupton) leaps towards victory in the Wellington Steeplechase at Trentham on...
Wise Men Say (Isaac Lupton) leaps towards victory in the Wellington Steeplechase at Trentham on Saturday. PHOTO: PETER RUBERY/RACE IMAGES
Grand Otago-bred stayer Wise Men Say booked a trip to Riccarton to contest the Grand National Steeplechase by winning the Wellington Steeplechase on Saturday.

The Yamanin Vital 8yr-old, bred by Brian and Lorraine Anderton and Eric Parr, added the Trentham feature to his extensive jumping resume with a three-length win for rider Isaac Lupton.

Whanganui trainer Raymond Connors plans to add next month's Grand National Steeplechase to his gelding's already impressive record.

"I'm pretty keen to go down there," Connors said.

"I'll see how he is in the next week and as long as he's sound that looks the way to go.

"Wherever he goes the weight is going to be the worry, though."

Wise Men Say added the title to his Great Northern and McGregor Grant Steeplechase wins.

The 8yr-old came into Saturday's race after running second behind Justa Charlie in the Hawke's Bay Steeplechase (4800m).

The step up to the 5500m distance at Trentham was a massive plus for Wise Men Say, Connors said.

"Looking back on that [Hawke's Bay] run, I thought this race was his for the taking over a bit further."

Ridden by Isaac Lupton, Wise Men Say kept the leader, Venerate, within his sights and was left alone in front when his rival came to grief about 1000m from home. Wise Men Say had control from that point. Chocolate Fish, who ran second, is also on a path towards the Grand National.

Last year's race winner, Amanood Lad was eight lengths back in third.

Connors has confirmed She's Poppy will definitely make the trip south to Riccarton. The mare is the $6 second-equal favourite for the Winter Cup.

She's Poppy ran second to Tomelilla in her last start in the Ag Challenge Stakes at Whanganui.

Zedeedudadeeko's return to form in the Wellington Hurdles may force a change of plans for trainer Jamie Phillips.

The 9yr-old bounced back to his best with an upset victory in the 3400m feature. It was his first win since success in the Great Northern Steeplechase in September last year.

"I was thinking it was time to say that's enough and he can go steeplechasing, but I have to think about that again now," Phillips said.

This preparation, Zedeedudadeeko was given three flat runs before he returned over the smaller fences, only to be pulled up in the Awapuni Hurdles. However, a more rigorous training regime and a return to Wellington proved a winning formula.

"He loves Trentham and he'd had a lot of work. He was ready," Phillips said.

Zedeedudadeeko was back in the early running before rider Charlie Studd made a move with a lap to go. They improved to sit outside the leader, The Shackler, before hitting the front three flights from home and then safely negotiated the final two fences.

Manawatu Steeplechase winner Game Percy fought on for second, with Kipkeino third.

Last year's winner, The Shackler, who was niggled at in front, ran a distant sixth.

 - NZ Racing Desk

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