A typically heady ride from top Central Districts jockey Johnathan Parkes paved the way for the ultra-consistent Five To Midnight to take out the Listed Ricoh Feilding Gold Cup at Awapuni yesterday.
The Lisa Latta-trained galloper carried 60kg as the clear topweight for the race, with Parkes mindful of ensuring he didn't cover an inch of extra ground throughout the 2100m contest.
Allowed to lob along at the rear of the 10-horse field, Five To Midnight produced an irresistible home straight burst when asked for an effort by Parkes as he drew clear of minor place-getters Ringo and Balham in the final 100m.
The Domesday six-year-old looks to have strengthened significantly for his current campaign after winning on the middle day of the Hawke's Bay spring carnival before finishing a creditable eighth in the group one Livamol Classic (2040m).
"He's furnished into a much stronger horse this time in," Latta said.
"He had a week in the paddock after Hastings, after a good run there.
"I thought he might need the run [yesterday] but he was lovely and settled in the birdcage which is normally when he goes his best races."
Latta was impressed with the performance as she plots a path towards the major summer staying races.
"It was a good effort to carry 60kg on this sort of track," she said.
"We will probably head to Counties and then maybe the Manawatu Cup, which is back to 2300m this year, and then to Waikato."
Five To Midnight was successful in last year's group three Waikato Cup (2400m) after finishing runner-up in the group three Counties Cup (2100m) before going on to be placed third in the group two Avondale Cup (2400m) ahead of a runner-up finish in the group one Auckland Cup (3200m).
Yesterday's victory took his career record to eight wins and a further 13 placings from 37 starts, with over $493,000 in prizemoney for owner Kevin Pratt under his Kamada Racing banner.
- NZ Racing Desk