Considering the interrupted preparation, Bernie Miller was delighted with the return of Cup Night in the Northam Stakes (1100m) and is confident the gelding can further improve when he lines up in the G3 Roma Cup (1200m) at Belmont on Saturday.
Dealing with Cup Night’s setbacks is not unusual for the Hopeland trainer, the Maschino six-year-old has been plagued by injury for the bulk of his career and after a hock problem, Miller felt he was racing against time to have him ready for the Northam Stakes.
“He’s all good and has come through the run really good,” Miller told The Races WA.
“He should be well and truly on track for this one.
“If he had another trial or an extra bit of fast work, I don’t think his run would have been impeded by the fitness levels.
“I believe he would have been well and truly in the money and his work since has been good and where it needs to be.”
Ridden by Pat Carbery in the Northam Stakes, Cup Night settled near last and sprinted sharply along the rail to finish a solid 2 ½ fifth behind Elite Street.
Cup Night had an extra trial under his belt in last year’s Northam Stakes before he finished powerfully to defeat Rock Magic and Money Matters.
For a fleeting moment in last Sunday week’s Northam Stakes, Miller felt Cup Night was a big hope of winning when he made his run against the fence.
“As soon as I thought that it came to an end,” Miller said.
“But he did loom up into it like he was going to be in it.
“It gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
With his history of setbacks, Miller knows he can’t plan too far ahead with Cup Night, but he’s hoping to extend the gelding’s campaign beyond the Roma Cup.
He’s targeted three feature races, the Belmont Sprint (1400m) and the Hyperion Stakes (1600m) before examining a distance test in the Strickland Stakes (2000m).
Cup Night won the Raconteur Stakes over 1500m, but failed in two attempts beyond that trip in last year’s Railway Stakes (1600m) and Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
“I wouldn’t mind going all the way through and see if we can get to the Strickland,” Miller said.
“The 2000m is something I have been aiming at for some time.
“I think he can go further for us and it’s always been in the back of my mind.
“I don’t think I can say he didn’t get the ground in the Kingston; it was inconclusive.
“He was coming to the end of his campaign.
“If he is still up there and fighting fit we might have a crack.”
Miller hopes Cup Night can follow in the winning footsteps of Madam Kisses and Aztec Gold.
Madam Kisses, a Rommel filly, scored her second victory in four starts at Pinjarra and will go to Ascot on Saturday.
The news not as bright for talented four-year-old mare, Sheza Chalmer, who was set to resume after a trial run.
“She whacked her tendon in the paddock,” Miller said.
“It’s a shame because her trial was good.”
Sheza Chalmer won last year’s Belmont Guineas (1600m) and ran second in the Belmont Oaks (2000m).