The connections of the rising staying star Chocante might have an impressive haul of silverware come the end of the four-year-old's current campaign.
The Shocking gelding successfully jumped from Rating 75 to the open ranks at Pukekohe Park yesterday with a steely performance to land the group three Ssangyong Counties Cup.
"He's a very progressive horse with a very bright future," trainer Stephen Marsh said.
"He's nominated for the City of Auckland Cup and the Auckland Cup in March - he's another winner for Shocking, they're really coming into their own now."
Raced by Mark Freeman and David Price, Chocante had won consecutive races at Matamata and Te Rapa before he was narrowly beaten at Trentham.
"We went there hoping to win to confirm his place here, but he got in anyway," Marsh said. "We're super proud of the horse, he really dug deeply."
Chocante drew a wide gate and rider Craig Grylls was forced to sit three deep near the pace.
"I said to Craig to be positive and to go forward and hopefully get one off the fence," Marsh said.
A tenacious Chocante answered every call in the straight from Grylls to outstay his opposition for a brave length-and-a-quarter victory.
El Pistola, who got to the front 300m from home, took second money ahead of Jiayuguan, whose stablemate and favourite Chenille ran fifth with Megablast splitting the Tony Pike-trained pair.
"She's nominated for the City of Auckland Cup, the Wellington Cup and the Auckland Cup," El Pistola's trainer Nathan Hanley said. "She's a dead-set two miler."
Meanwhile, Shezhardtocatch downed a smart field of sprinters in the Listed Haunui Farm Counties Bowl.
Shezhardtocatch settled off the pace before she unwound powerfully in the hands of veteran jockey Grant Cooksley to get in the deciding stride on the post.
- NZ Racing Desk.