Veteran jumper Eric The Viking returned to his best form at Trentham to complete a dream day for his rider.
The rising 11-year-old took top honours in the Grant Plumbing Wellington Steeplechase in the hands of Matthew Cropp, who had earlier combined with Wee Biskit for an outstanding win in the Anuka Smoker Wellington hurdles.
"I cannot believe this day has actually happened," the Waverley-based jockey said. "I'm actually having to pause and really think about this. It hasn't sunk in."
The 24-year-old was having his first ride on Eric The Viking, who jumped fluently throughout to close in on the leaders with 800m to run.
"I thought I would be patient as I've seen that this horse can finish his races off and he did," Cropp said.
The Viking Ruler gelding cleared the final fence in front and crossed the line with a five-length advantage on Crash Bandicoot, with last year's runner-up The Oysterman in third spot ahead of Wise Men Say.
Eric The Viking was at odds of 17-1 after some indifferent lead-up form, although Tauherenikau trainer and part-owner Aaron Bidlake was confident of significant improvement following the gelding's unplaced effort in the Hawke's Bay Steeplechase.
"He had a few little issues going into Hastings and I said to a few people after that race that he wouldn't get beaten again this season," he said.
On that supremely confident note, Bidlake and Eric The Viking will head south to Riccarton for the Racecourse Grand National Steeplechase, a race he won in 2014 after also claiming the Koral Steeplechase on the opening day of the carnival.
- NZ Racing Desk.