A glowing report from a Group 1-winning jockey has boosted trainer Stephen Marsh’s confidence ahead of another Australian campaign for Chocante.
“Troy Harris rode him in a trial at Taupo before the horse went to Sydney last year and he rode him again at Cambridge the other day and said he felt as good, if not better this time around,” Marsh said.
Chocante went on to place behind the champion mare Winx in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) in his last campaign across the Tasman.
The son of Shocking is now set for a return to the Queensland winter carnival where he won last year’s Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2200m) prior to his Sydney exploits.
“He’s going to run in the open handicap over 1400m on Saturday and then he’ll go over to Brisbane,” Marsh said.
“He’s coming up really well and while we wouldn’t be expecting him to win at Te Aroha, he’ll give a little bit of cheek at some stage of the race.”
Chocante will open his Australian campaign in the Listed Tails Stakes (1600m) at Doomben on April 21 followed by the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast two weeks later and then the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 19. Whether the five-year-old has company on the Brisbane venture has yet to be decided.
“Possibly Pierrocity could go over with Mark Two for the Queensland Oaks, we’ll just wait and see what happens between now and then,” Marsh said.
Sixth in the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) in the spring, Pierrocity has been out twice this preparation and was a last-start runner-up at Matamata. Mark Two has yet to break her maiden, but in four appearances has placed in the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic (2000m) and ran fourth in the Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m).
Last time out she finished fifth in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m).
“That was a very good run for a horse that hasn’t had a lot of racing,” Marsh said.