Tough as teak Dolcetto shrugged off his bridesmaid tag as he prevailed in a thrilling four-way finish to the second of the feature events at Wanganui Racecourse on Saturday – the Listed Ag Challenge Stakes (1600m).
The Sylvia Kay-trained six-year-old had been thereabouts in his recent starts but had failed to greet the judge since winning at Awapuni back in December 2017.
In his defence, eleven of his 15 subsequent runs have been in stakes company, including a last start third in the Listed Rangitikei Gold Cup (1600m) a fortnight ago.
The Per Incanto gelding entered Saturday's contest as one of the fittest horses in the event, a factor that played well in his favour on a deep and testing surface that saw a number of favoured candidates struggling with more than 600m to run.
Jockey Rosie Myers kept Dolcetto in a challenging position throughout and set out after local mare She's Poppy and three-year-old Platinum Rapper, who had swooped on the lead as the field turned for home.
Myers urged Dolcetto to the front where he dug deep in the last few strides to down Rosewood, who had tracked him through in the straight and Platinum Rapper in a dour finish, with She's Poppy close up in fourth.
The drama didn't end there, however, as the protest siren sounded with a second versus first enquiry launched by stipendiary stewards, which was decided in Dolcetto's favour after a lengthy deliberation.
Kay was delighted that her charge had broken his long run of outs with a deserved victory.
"He is fit although I don't know if he looked that happy [in the ground]," she said.
"He got the job done and thank goodness for that, as it is about time he had a win.
"There is a big difference between first and second, and third and fourth money, so it's nice to get a win this time as he thoroughly deserves it as he tries so hard."
The winner of eight of his first twelve starts, Dolcetto has now won on nine occasions and more than $289,000 in prizemoney for his owners Chris and Helen Bishop along with Kay and the estate of her late husband Paddy.
Kay would get a second place finish in the other feature of the day, as the Whanganui again hosted the running of the Steelform Roofing Group Foxton Cup.
Hunta Pence was taken to the winner's post by Danielle Hirini for trainer Patrick Campbell, with Kay's Dr Watson under jockey Robert Hannam the runnerup and Overtheriver coming third under Sarah Macnab for local trainer Kevin Myers. – NZ Racing Desk.