Trainer Stephen Marsh is thrilled with the condition of talented stayer Chocante as he continues to work towards a berth in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on September 30th.
A smart performer through the recent Brisbane Winter Carnival, Chocante returned to Australia and the races in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) a fortnight ago and completely exceed Marsh’s expectations; hitting the line well to finish third behind Winx and Red Excitement.
Marsh told AAP that the horse has previously shown little in races below 2000m in distance and is confident that the horse will only improve as he continues to step up in distance this time.
“I thought the run was well above expectations. He’s not a miler at all. It usually takes 2000 metres to show his best,” Marsh said.
“He was quite an immature type and he’s just strengthened up mentally and physically. He seems pretty much the complete package now.”
Chocante will take his position in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday and Marsh is confident that natural improvement and the addition of jockey Blake Shinn will see the horse right in the finish of the race.
“That’s encouraging. He’d near on go to favourite (in The Metropolitan) if he put his hand up on Saturday,” Marsh said.
“Rory (Hutchings) did a great job (in the Chelmsford Stakes) but he would have been battling to make the 55kgs.”
Chocante will be charged with carrying 53kgs should he continue to a berth in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on the first Tuesday of November, but Marsh conceded that there is still plenty of water to go under the bridge before then.
“We’ll take it if he gets a run. I thought it’d be a little bit less but we’re happy,” Marsh said.
A strong and consistent performer in his native New Zealand, Chocante returned to the races this year for a credible third in the Team Wellness Handicap (1400m) on April 8th and overcame an extremely difficult run in transit to finish seventh in the Group 2 Easter Stakes (1600m).
Third in the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2000m) upon arriving in Australia on May 13th, the Shocking gelding failed to fire in the Group 3 Premier’s Cup (2200m), but responded with a dominant win in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2200m) on June 10th.
The Kingston Town Stakes field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, today (September 13th).