If you're good enough to claim a Listed once, you're good enough to do it again, as the 2018 NZ Oaks winner Sentimental Miss from Awapuni claimed a very competitive Steelform Roofing Group Wanganui Cup at the racecourse today.
Fourth favourite in the 14-horse field after not much success since the Oaks win as a 3-year-old, jockey Kozzi Asano picked the right line for a field that spread out nearly rail-to-rail after the final turn in the 2040m feature of Christmas at the Races.
Coming into the event, Foxton favourite Red Sierra (Rosie Myers) and last year's cup runnerup Hunta Pence (Chris Johnson) of Hastings had been looking like the prize bets, plus the hope that Sergeant Blast (Leah Hemi) might be able to pull off a headline-grabbing Waverley-Wanganui Cup double.
It was Marton's Portland Jimmy, trained by Fraser Auret, who took the early lead on the first trot past the finishing post, followed by Sergeant Blast who had previously led the Waverley Cup from start to finish.
Red Sierra held third but with Hunta Pence coming up the inside rail alongside him, it seemed like that was where the race would eventually be decided.
Along the back stretch and Portland Jimmy continued to expand the lead over Sergeant Blast while the battle continued for third and the inside rail as Red Sierra and Hunta Pence were both looking to set themselves to run down the leaders on a warm afternoon.
But the chasing pack also wanted a say and coming to the final straight the field had spread out by 6-7 horses across, opening up the chance for a bolter to make their way through.
That was all Sentimental Miss needed, as she came charging through the middle to get up by 2/3 of a length from Hunta Pence, who had earned the rail but had to settle for runnerup for the second year in a row.
Outside of Sentimental Miss, Platinum Invador (Robert Hannam) likewise came charging to snatch third in a photo finish, while giving Awapuni trainer Lisa Latta two horses in the Top 3, including her first Wanganui Cup win since 2013.
"Very much [delighted], just to get her back to form after winning the Oaks," Latta said.
There had been no specific plan made based on what the other horses may do.
"She had a nice draw and [Asano] just waited and balanced her up," Latta said.
It was a victory for the Go Racing Yesteryear Syndicate, with plenty of them on hand to bask in the cup win.
"He was under good instructions, old Kozzi, he did get a bit of luck," said spokesman Sean O'Connor.
"It's such a great thrill for Kozzi, being his first Black type winner."
While many prior winners have used the Wanganui Cup as a springboard to higher glory later in the summer season, O'Connor said they will have a chat with Latta regarding any future plans.
"We need to see how the horse pulls up, don't think she'll get away with many of the hard tracks."
Sired by Reliable Man out of Nostalgic, the 4-year-old Sentimental Miss has now brought in $326,375 in prize money.
The victory highlighted a very busy Christmas at the Races with a large crowd enjoying the good weather and festivities.
The on course turnover for six races was $109,355, exceeding the TAB budget of $104,821.
Off course turnover was $868,428.