Foxton trainers David and Emma Haworth came within a nose of a quinella in yesterday's Listed Ricoh Feilding Gold Cup (2200m) at Awapuni, headed by a breakthrough performance by Toms.
The improving six-year-old won four races last season, including three of his last four starts, and he had begun a new campaign with eye-catching performances at Hastings and Otaki.
He stepped up to stakes level for the first time yesterday and rose to the occasion, with accomplished stablemate Balham delivering an excellent supporting performance in third.
The Haworth pair both enjoyed smooth midfield runs as Call Me Royal, Strolling Vagabond and Pacorus set a strong pace up front.
Balham was the first to make his move, rolling to the lead in the straight under Darryl Bradley. But Johnathan Parkes brought Toms home over the top of his stablemate in the last 200m, sweeping past and opening up a margin of a length-and-a-quarter at the finish.
Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) bound Duplicity came with a huge late run from last, snatching second by a nose from a gallant Balham.
It was an almost-perfect result for the Haworths, who also own Toms.
"It was fantastic," Emma Haworth said. "It was great to see Toms win the race so well, and we were also really proud to see the old boy [Balham] back in top form.
"Toms is a horse who's really come of age this year. He developed really nicely through last season and put together a few wins at the end of that campaign, but he wasn't really happy on those heavy tracks.
"We were confident he'd be even better on top of the ground, so it was really good to see him come out and win a race like that.
"Balham ran a huge race as well. I had a feeling he might run a cheeky race [yesterday] because his work had been outstanding coming into it. He ran a great race. I thought he might be able to just cling on for second, but he got pipped right on the line. Either way, we were rapt with him."
Now that Toms has proven himself at black-type level, he is likely to chase further staying spoils through the rest of the season like the Group 3 Manawatu Cup on December 21.
- NZ Racing Desk