A brave front-running effort paid dividends for Timaru visitor Chokito as she captured her first stakes victory in the Listed ILT Ascot Park Hotel Southland Guineas (1600m) at Invercargill.
The Mel and Warwick Coles-trained filly has been a model of consistency throughout her career, finishing out of the top three on only two occasions in nine starts before Saturday’s contest.
The daughter of Valachi Downs Stud-based stallion Vespa had been in the firing line in all three starts this campaign without registering a victory. All that changed courtesy of a heady ride from jockey Samantha Wynne, who took bad luck out of the equation from barrier rise as she sent Chokito straight to the front.
Wynne set-up a steady pace and gave Chokito her head rounding the home bend. With a wall of horses chasing her, Chokito found a good kick to hold out the desperate lunge of Milford Sound with Gone With The Wind charging home for third.
It was an emotional victory for co-trainer Warwick Coles who prepares the filly in partnership with his father Mel.
“It’s great to see her get that win today as we nearly lost her at the end of her first campaign,” Coles said. “She picked up a bad virus after her win here (Invercargill) as a two-year-old.
“We had to put her away for a lengthy spell and it was touch and go there for a while.
“The vets didn’t know what it was, she had a hell of a temperature and looked like death warmed up at times.
“She finally got over it though and has taken these first few runs to work her way back to full fitness.”
While Coles had been pleased with her efforts to date, he felt a slight change in tactics were required and the plan paid off for his charge.
“It was just brilliant today as Sam has been trying to settle her in her races and it hasn’t really been working,” he said. “This time I said we are going to go down there and let her bowl along in front and see if she will settle that way.
“I thought if we took the bull by the horns it might get her into a rhythm and Sam did a great job on her.
“I knew she could get the mile as she had been taking ground off them in her last couple of runs and especially around Invercargill where it suits a front-running style.
“Now she’s at full fitness the plan worked out thankfully.”
Coles will travel home with Chokito before deciding on her next target.
“I’m not sure where to go next as our only thought was if she didn’t get the trip, we would take her home and freshen her up,” he said. “We’ll let her get over this one as it is a big trip away and maybe have a look closer to home.”
Chokito is the first foal of Pins mare Pretty Woman, a daughter of Group One placed mare Howmuchyacharging and has now won four of her 10 starts.