The sight of Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa blooming in the paddock has helped ease the disappointment Stephen Marsh felt at losing the classic winner Ugo Foscolo from his stable.

Sofia Rosa will return to work early next month and Marsh, who trains at Cambridge, was thrilled when he inspected the filly last weekend.

"She has done tremendously well and looks amazing," Marsh said. "I was thrilled to bits and she looks back to where she was."

Sofia Rosa won three group races as a three-year-old and was relegated from first to second in the New Zealand Oaks, before recording a decisive win in the Australian Oaks at Randwick.


She was high on the early betting markets for the Caulfield Cup but failed to come up in the spring and was put aside after three starts in Melbourne. "She just didn't thrive in the spring and never lost her [winter] coat at all," Marsh said.

"She didn't do that well as a spring three-year-old either but really came right in the autumn and I can't see any reason why she won't do the same this season.

"We will leave her out for a bit longer and then work out an autumn programme for her.

"She will probably kick off here somewhere and then most likely head to Sydney."

Ugo Foscolo, an impressive winner of the Two Thousand Guineas at Riccarton, has had a change of ownership and will do his future racing for Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse.

"It was simply a business decision but it's always disappointing to lose a horse as good as that," Marsh said. "I hope he comes up well for them but horses like him are hard to replace."

However, Marsh might have already found another headline act in Chocante, who overcame a tough run to win last weekend's $100,000 Counties Cup (2100m) as a rating 74 horse.

Chocante will run next in the $100,000 Manawatu Cup at Awapuni on December 17. "That's a month away and looks a nice progression for him," Marsh said. "It's over 2300m and worth good money.

"He's in the Auckland Cup but we will regroup after the Manawatu Cup. We could look at Sydney in the autumn with him too."

Chocante has had three wins and a second - beaten a nose by the promising Art Deco - from his four starts this term.

"We have always thought he was a stayer," Marsh said. "He's got plenty of upside and does everything you want to see in a stayer."

Marsh had few runners early in the season but is now in fifth place on the trainers' premiership and will have runners at Te Aroha today, Otaki on Friday, Ellerslie on Saturday and Te Rapa on Sunday.

His Te Aroha team includes the debut runners Akoya and Andado, who have won three trials apiece, though they both have awkward barriers.

Three-year-old filly Cascata will tackle the group three Wellington Stakes (1600m) at Otaki and trials winner Sophie's Choice will probably tackle the juvenile at Otaki.

Marsh's team for Ellerslie will include Barbaric, Rocanto and Ruud Not Too, who will all be chances in the rating 85 1100m.

Barbaric, who ran fourth in the group one Telegraph at Trentham in January, is dropping back in class and will claim 4kg.

- NZ Racing Desk