Patience and perseverance gained their reward when The Oysterman upstaged his better-performed rivals at Trentham.
The rising 10-year-old had gone winless in nine previous starts over the big fences and in 11 flat outings before he triumphed in Saturday's L.J. Hooker Manawatu Steeplechase.
The Oysterman and rider Hamish McNeill were up with the play throughout the 4000 metre contest and when the favourite The Big Opal came to grief about 1000 metres from home they went for gold.
"It just doesn't get any better than this, the horse really deserved it and Hamish rode him beautifully," Awapuni part-owner and trainer Stephen Nickalls said.
The Yamanin Vital gelding was out on his own when he hit the course proper and he crossed the line clear of Joking and the McGregor Grant Steeplechase winner Wise Men Say, who was doing his best work in the closing stages to take third.
The Oysterman is now likely to return to Trentham next month for the Wellington Steeplechase, a race he finished third in last year and was runner-up in 2015.
He may well be opposed in that event by Kings Deep, who made an overdue return to winning form in the Tasman Insulation Steeplechase.
The Grand National, Great Northern and Awapuni Hurdles placegetter has had to overcome tendon injuries and a serious virus to get his career back on track.
Apart from one mistimed leap at Trentham, Kings Deep produced a fine show of jumping under rider Aaron Kuru.
"We've had our troubles with him over the last few years so it's good to get a pay day," Hastings part-owner and trainer Paul Nelson said.