A change of environment has worked wonders for widely-travelled stayer Gentil Tonton.
The Irish-bred son of Yeats was making just his second start for trainer John Bell, who now also owns the gelding, when he came from the back of the field to triumph in yesterday's Listed Woods Contracting Taumarunui Gold Cup at Rotorua.
"When they come into a new stable they can sometimes grow another leg," Bell said. "He's a lovely horse."
A two-time winner in his native Ireland for Patrick Prendergast, Gentil Tonton then had one start in Hong Kong for Gary Moore before he transferred to the Cambridge stable of Trevor and Martin Cruz.
He was successful three times for the brothers and a further victory was posted from the yard of Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott before joining Bell's operation.
As is his style, Gentil Tonton settled toward the back of the field on yesterday under leading apprentice Sam Weatherley before they improved near the home turn.
A well-timed finish saw them score by half a length.
"Young Sam rode him a treat, he's not the easiest horse to ride," Bell said.
Weatherley, who had ridden Gentil Tonton on four previous occasions, was true to his word at Rotorua.
"When Sam found out we were getting the horse he rang for the ride and said he'd win the cup and he has," Bell said.
"We'll look for something for him now without travelling too far," he added.
Gentil Tonton accounted for Pump Up The Volume, the runner-up 12 months ago behind Jochen Rindt, who was a game third in the defence of his title.
- NZ Racing Desk