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Returning New Zealander Chocante has a tough first-up run against Winx this weekend ahead of his spring campaign targeting The Metropolitan 2017.
The five-year-old son of former Melbourne Cup winner Shocking is prepared across the Tasman by Stephen Marsh who is eager to get the stayer back racing on Saturday in Sydney.
Chocante hit the headlines in Queensland over the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival winning the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2200m) at Doomben on June 10 in an upset.
The $15 shot posted a smart three and a quarter-length victory over Single Gaze in the feature and races for the first time since back down under at Randwick in Saturday’s Group 2 $250,000 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m).
Chocante like the rest of the Chelmsford Stakes field will be racing for second at best in the weight-for-age feature set to be dominated by dual Cox Plate champion Winx.
Winx is second-up on Saturday after Chris Waller’s mighty mare finished first for the 18th straight time in a come from behind success in the Warwick Stakes (1400m).
She gets the earmuffs on in the Chelmsford Stakes as Waller looks to get her jumping evenly from the gates.
Unsurprisingly Winx is already odds-on favourite at a nearly unbackable $1.10 in pre-field Chelmsford Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Further down the Chelmsford Stakes odds at a current quote of $61 is Marsh’s roughie Chocante who could be overs based on how well the horse has progressed over the break.
“He’s a better horse than he was in Brisbane,” Marsh told Racing Victoria on Tuesday.
“I think the trip there has matured him and now he’s had a little break. He just seems a complete horse now.
“Obviously it’s not a race we think we can win with Winx in it and obviously it’s short of his best, but it’s a good kick-off race for him to get him up over ground.”
The Kiwi is yet to race in Sydney, but Marsh remains confident his good first-up performer can be competitive over the Randwick mile looking ahead to bigger and better things over the coming weeks.
“He had a gallop on the course proper [at Randwick] this morning and we certainly can’t fault him,” the Cambridge-based trainer said.
“While I don’t expect him to win and he might even struggle to place, but I think he’s going to run better than expected and I can’t wait to get him over some ground.”
The major aim for Chocante this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival is a mile and a half run back at Randwick on September 30 in the Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m).
“He’ll go straight from here to a 2000-metre race and then hopefully onto the Metropolitan,” Marsh confirmed.
That likely 2000m race is Randwick’s Group 3 $150,000 Kingston Town Stakes run a fortnight before the Group 1 on September 16.
Two of the past three The Metropolitan winners came via the Kingston Town Stakes with Opinion (2014) for Waller improving on his lead-up 10th and the John Thompson-trained eight-year-old Sir John Hawkwood last year having run second in the Group 3.
Chocante’s owners are also expected to nominate their galloper for the ‘race that stops a nation’ with 2017 Melbourne Cup nominations to be released later today.
“We’d love to get a run in the Melbourne Cup,” Marsh admitted, the trainer also eyeing the Spring Cups with his mare Sofia Rosa.
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