Michael Mitchell earned his money aboard Mr Mor yesterday when the veteran jumper successfully defended his Hawke's Bay Steeplechase title.
The Cambridge-based Englishman had to call on all his guile and vigour to get the best out of the rising 12-year-old for back to back wins in the feature at Hastings.
"He was off the bit with a lap to go and it was quite a difficult ride," Mitchell said. "I had to save as much ground as I could."
Mr Mor gradually made ground from the back of the field to clear the penultimate flight in second spot.
"He met the last fence brilliantly and went away - he's going to be right there in all the bigger races now."
Mr Mor's dogged finish saw him down Brer by four lengths with third place going to Get Flash, whose stablemate and favourite I've Got This was never in contention and was pulled out of the contest.
While Mitchell may have had his concerns with Mr Mor, co-trainer JJ Rayner was more relaxed.
"That's just how he is - he's hard work and then he gets his second wind and he gets going again," she said. "He's our favourite."
Rayner, who prepares Mr Mor at Wanganui with her father Evan, said they had expected a bold showing from the gelding, who had improved with his previous outing for fourth in the Manawatu Steeplechase.
"He needed that run and we'll go to Trentham now."
Mr Mor will step out in the Wellington Steeplechase in a fortnight's time before heading south for the Grand National Steeplechase on August 13.
Twelve months ago, he won the Trentham event before finishing runner-up to High Forty at Riccarton.
- NZ Racing Desk