A gear switch proved an inspired move after Alinko Prince produced a strong staying performance on Saturday to provide his trainer Fraser Auret with a sentimental victory in his home feature.
The strapping son of Alamosa was a deserved winner of the Gallagher Marton Cup at Trentham after runner-up finishes in each of his previous three appearances.
Alinko Prince was narrowly beaten in the Feilding Cup, the Waverley Cup and in the Chalmers Hcp before gaining a major reward.
"It's a massive thrill and I've got a big mortgage there so it's nice to have a Cup to show for it," the Marton-based Auret said.
"We took the blinkers off and put the visor blinkers on in the hope he could see the others " if he gets to the front too soon he can switch off."
Alinko Prince's odds for the Wellington Cup were cut from $16 to $7 after his defeat of Jacksstar, who shares the same quote for the Trentham feature on January 21.
"He's a beautiful, big, raw sort of horse and he doesn't love the firm ground and that's why he hadn't raced for 40 days before this," Auret said. "I thought it would be a lovely pipe opener into the Wellington Cup for him."
Prepared by Auret for long-time stable client and breeder John Bromley, Alinko Prince raced at the back of the field under rider Johnathan Parkes before edging closer across the top.
The 5-year-old responded valiantly to Parkes' urgings in the closing 150m to reel in Jacksstar and score by three-quarters of a length with Echezeaux finishing third in front of the pacemaker China Star.
• Awapuni trainer Jeff Lynds is prepared to raise the bar to a lofty level for his sparingly-raced sprinter Thien Ly.
He produced the six-year-old for a first-up victory at Trentham on Saturday and he's got his fingers crossed that performance will give the Stravinsky gelding a shot at a Group One prize later in the month.
"If we can sneak into the field then we might have a crack at the Telegraph," Lynds said.
Thien Ly posted his fourth career win in the Southern Rangitikei Veterinary Services Premier, his first race day appearance since he beat Lewis Caroll, who has subsequently won two races, at Te Rapa last April.
"He's had a few problems and injured his hind quarter," Lynds said.
A lack of recent racing didn't hold Thien Ly back at Trentham where he was given the most economical of rides by Rosie Myers behind the pace.
"Rosie had ridden him in jump-outs and it's always nice to have her on," Lynds said.
Myers didn't have to cover an inch of extra ground on Thien Ly, who didn't need asking twice to lengthen stride along the fence.
"The speed was quite strong and we were lucky the leader ran out and gave us a beautiful run up the rail," she said.
"He tends to run in so it suited us. He's always had a lot of ability."
The front-runner Smashing stuck grimly to her guns in the closing 400 metres to take second money ahead of Lucyinrio.
The favourite Whispering was never a player in the straight and beat only one runner home.
Curraghmore will offer a half-brother (Lot 741) by Power to Thien Ly during the Select Sale at Karaka on February 1.
Lynds and Myers subsequently completed a Trentham double when Wills Road, who was in blinkers for the first time, narrowly triumphed in the Winston Peters Cup.
- NZ Racing Desk