Cessnock Cup Wrap
Warwick Farm pair Keep Up and Hirokin engaged in a two horse war in the final 200 metres of the 2018 Hungerford Hill Cessnock Cup at Newcastle on Wednesday.
Former Kiwi Keep Up ($2) prevailed by a short neck from Hirokin ($5.50) with Armidale galloper Rage Against ($11) three and a quarter length away third.
The winner is raced by Hong Kong businesswoman Nancy Wong and is trained by Clare Cunningham.
Keep Up is in his first preparation with Cunningham and he went into he races on the back of a strong Hawksbury win last start.
With Cunningham’s partner Jason Collett under suspension Chad Lever was aboard the six-year old and he carried out the trainer’s instructions to the letter. Keep Up is a stout stayer and he can over race is he doesn’t switch off and be allowed to do his own thing.
He raced generously at the tail of the field before Lever pulled him to the outside at the top of the straight.
Keep Up joined Hirokin which raced in second place and the pair drew clear at the ‘100’ it was head to head to the line with the favourite a narrow winner.
Cunningham who worked four years as Peter Moody’s foreman was over the moon.
“He has been a work in progress as he is an emotional horse, but he is getting there.
Keep Up has a bad habit of laying in under pressure but he was a lot better today.
My partner Jason Collett normally rides him, but he is suspended and is in New Zealand. He was texting me during the race. Jason told Chad all about the horse.
Keep Up is ready to go back to town now. It was great to have my father with me today as I was brought up with horses at home” Cunningham said.
Comeback jockey Darryl McLellan landed a double for Kris Lees.
“Digger” was successful on More Chilli ($10) in the East Cessnock Bowling Club Benchmark 66 Handicap.
Lees saddled up three winners and the first of the treble Designer Maid special.
The filly bolted in with the 900 metre XXXX Gold Class 2 Handicap. The winner was bred by Lees’ mother Vicki who is a part owner of the filly.
Designer Maid is very fast, and she has won two of her three starts.
Muswellbrook horseman Luke Thomas is contemplating a return to the city with his mare.
Princess Lottie a narrow winner of the 900metre Senpos Cessnock Lightning Handicap. The four-year-old won first up at Wyong on September 23 before a smart trial win there two weeks ago.
Princess Lottie finished fourth behind She Knows in a Randwick Highway in May and she would be competitive over 1000 metres.
The NJC is more than happy with the TAB turnover on the meeting transferred from Cessnock.
The track was in great condition despite the consistent racing.