Trainer Bernie Miller was rapt with the trial of Cup Night and has his fingers crossed it signals a change of fortune for the Maschino gelding.
Feet issues have restricted Cup Night to just five races in two years, but Miller says he took a significant step forward at Belmont this morning.
At his first official trial of the preparation, Cup Night, with regular partner Pat Carbery in the saddle, kicked strongly on the inside and won a close heat.
In a three-way finish, Cup Night defeated Rockin’ Rupert and Wiener Waltz, stopping the clock at 1m.02.62secs, the slowest of seven 1000m heats.
Miller said he wasn’t concerned by times or depth of Cup Night’s trial opposition; he was delighted to see the seven-year-old display an appetite for racing.
“It wasn’t the strongest trial, they are still nice horses, don’t get me wrong, but it was nice to see,” Miller told The Races WA.
“With everything that has gone on, I thought a confidence win in a trial would be very suitable for him.
“His happy, his heart rate was 91, he recovered very quickly and I’m pretty happy with the whole lot.
“When he got home he bounced off the truck and was strong like he used to be.
“I put him back in the paddock and he was doing laps, going around and around and around.
“He would have gone around for 10 minutes and it felt really good.
‘I hadn’t seen that for a long time and maybe we’re on the right track.
“Hopefully we can see a different horse.”
Cup Night’s raced by Miller and Carbery’s family, including his dad, mum, brother and wife, former jockey and current trainer, Jessica.
He’s won nine races from 30 starts with peak performances in the Listed Raconteur Stakes (1500m), Scenic Blast Stakes (1200m) and Northam Stakes (1100m).
Confident he can bolster his half a million dollars in stake earnings, Miller says Cup Night will return to racing next month.
“He’ll have another trial and then head to the Black Heart Bart Stakes,” said Miller.
“He’ll trial again in two weeks.”
Cup Night ran second to Stageman, beaten a long-head, when contesting the 2020 Black Heart Bart Stakes (1200m) first up.
The 2022 Black Heart Bart Stakes will be run at Belmont on September 24.