Strapping chestnut Field Of Gold is aiming to emulate his older half-brother Sherwood Forest by winning the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) next month.
The Tony Pike-trained three-year-old enhanced his credentials with an all-the-way win in the Gr.2 Legacy Lodge Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa on Wednesday under a brilliantly judged Michael McNab ride.
Taking advantage of an inside draw (2), McNab set an even tempo before upping the ante 700m from home and upon straightening never looked like being headed.
The Jamie Richards-trained The Perfect Pink closed well to finish second, beaten 3/4 length, with Shamus, who enjoyed a good run behind the leader a further 1-1/4 lengths back in third.
“It was a nice ride by Michael. It looked a race that was devoid of speed. They ran into the first corner a little bit but he just ran them along at a nice even tempo,” Pike said.
“Shamus came off his back and once he quickened he got him off the bridle very quickly, so I was reasonably confident then. He kicked well straightening and probably the best part was he was very strong past the post.
“From a Derby point of view he was one of the last to pull up. It is very encouraging going forward. He is probably just hitting peak fitness and hopefully he can emulate his brother in four or five weeks’ time.”
The win strengthened Pike’s hand in the Derby, with Field Of Gold now an $8 third favourite for the blue-riband event, in a market headed by The Perfect Pink ($4) and the Pike-trained Tutukaka ($6).
L-R: Michael McNab, Andrew ‘Butch’ Castles of Waikato Racing Club, and trainer Tony Pike.
A winner of three of his eight starts and stakes-placed on three occasions including a third placing in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Field Of Gold will have another look around Ellerslie prior to the Derby.
“He is a big solid sort of horse, so he will definitely run in the Avondale Guineas (Gr.2, 2100m) in just over two weeks and then onto the Derby,” Pike said.
According to his trainer, Field Of Gold compared favourably to his half-brother Sherwood Forest who he prepared to win the 2020 Derby.
“He has got a bit more brilliance than Sherwood Forest. He was a very dour horse that needed all of the mile and a half, whereas this bloke has a little bit more zip about him and it is probably nice going forward that he has,” Pike said.
“He has got a nice high cruising speed and is very relaxed. He has taken a sit in the past and if somebody else wants to inject some speed into the race, then he is more than happy to take a sit in behind the speed.
“But it is always nice with a staying three-year-old to have some tactical speed.
“He was always a good looking horse that has continued to develop and he is coming right at the right time. He was probably just a preparation away when he went down south.
“He won first-up, beating Noverre down there, and was a touch unlucky in the 2000 Guineas but he has come back even stronger this preparation.”
Raced by breeders Matthew Goodson and Dianna Perron, Field Of Gold is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Chasing Mammon, the dam of five winners including Sherwood Forest and the Listed winner Royal Ocean.