Rising central districts star Dolcetto exceeded expectations at Awapuni where his development took another significant step.
He fronted up against the open handicappers for the first time in Saturday’s Norwood Farm Machinery Centre Handicap and duly accounted for the stakes winners Longchamp and Taurus.
“I would have been rapt if he had run in the first three,” said Dolcetto’s regular rider Samantha Collett. “He’s still learning his craft and doing a few things wrong.”
The Per Incanto four-year-old sat at the back of the field before pushing between runners and he then took an inside passage in to the straight.
Longchamp had taken control 250 metres from home, but Dolcetto dug deep and finished better to earn a neck decision.
“He showed a lot of ticker today to pick up that other horse,” Collett said. “He’s improving with each run and more racing will help him again as he’s still quite quirky.”
Co-bred and part-owned by his Levin trainer Sylvia Kay, Dolcetto was a winner and twice finished second behind Francaletta in three appearances at last year’s Hastings carnival. That meeting is again high on Kay’s priority list.
“I might be going to Wellington to ride him next, I’m not 100 per cent sure on that yet, and then it will be on to Hawke’s Bay,” Collett said.
Dolcetto has now won five of his eight starts, but he is likely to steer clear of the Group One features at Hastings.
“I don’t think weight-for-age suits him just yet,” Collett said. “He’s still nicely placed in handicaps.”
Meanwhile, Longchamp is bound for New Plymouth on July 22 to defend his Listed Opunake Cup title and Taurus is also expected to head the same way. He finished third in the race last year and was runner-up in 2015