Chocante opens cup account

Chocante (Craig Grylls) successfully managing the step up with a sound Counties Cup win.

Chocante (Craig Grylls) successfully managing the step up with a courageous Counties Cup win.

The connections of the rising staying star Chocante might have an impressive haul of silverware come the end of the four-year-old’s current campaign.

The Shocking gelding successfully jumped from Rating 75 to the open ranks at Pukekohe today with a steely performance to land the Gr.3 Ssangyong Counties Cup.

“He’s a very progressive horse with a very bright future,” said trainer Stephen Marsh said.

“He’s nominated for the City of Auckland Cup and the Auckland Cup in March. He’s another winner for Shocking, they’re really coming into their own now.”

Raced by Mark Freeman and David Price, Chocante had won consecutive races at Matamata and Te Rapa before he was narrowly beaten at Trentham.

“We went there hoping to win to confirm his place here, but he got in anyway,” said Marsh. “We’re super proud of the horse. He really dug deeply.”

Chocante drew a wide gate and rider Craig Grylls was forced to sit three-deep near the pace.

“I said to Craig to be positive and to go forward and hopefully get one off the fence,” said Marsh. “It wasn’t Craig’s fault that he got caught three wide and they have done a great job.”

A tenacious Chocante answered every call in the straight from Grylls to outstay his opposition for a brave length and a quarter victory.

El Pistola, who got to the front 300 metres from home, took second money ahead of the Tony Pike-trained Jiayuguan, whose stablemate and favourite Chenille ran fifth with Megablast splitting the Cambridge pair.

– NZ Racing Desk.