Chocante latest addition to Baertschiger wonder year

With only four meetings left in the 2017 season, the ding-dong battle for second place on the trainer’s log looks all set to go down to the wire after Shane Baertschiger again drew on level terms with Ricardo Le Grange on Sunday.

Well behind champion-elect Mark Walker, the two Kranji handlers have been trading the runner-up spot in recent weeks. Baertschiger, however, played down the joust, saying that regardless of the outcome, he would still toast to his overall performance as the best he has had since taking over his father Don in 2012.

Chocante was the horse whose maiden win in the $65,000 Initiation race over 1100m handed Baertschiger his 59th win for the season.

Chocante (Barend Vorster) off to an easy win on Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club

“This is by far my best season. Last year was my best with 52 winners but I’ve already bettered that,” he said.

“I’ve also won a Group 2 and a Group 3 race, so I can’t complain. Whether I finish second or third, it doesn’t matter as I’ve had a really good year.”

The two “black type” wins Baertschiger was referring to were Be Bee’s Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) and Faaltless’s Group 3 Garden City Trophy (1200m).

Whether his latest winner can join such elite company one day remains to be seen, with Baertschiger happy to just savour that first win from the Tianzhou Stable-owned three-year-old by Fastnet Rock.

“I got it all wrong at his first run with the blinkers and running him up on the speed. He overraced,” said Baertschiger.

“We took him back to the trials, took of the blinkers and he was a lot more settled. I put him in that Initiation race and he was firing on the tracks.

“He was caught three wide at the back, but I did tell Barend (Vorster) to grab hold of him as he will jump and run. He will keep improving for sure.”

Vorster indeed had the $13 favourite charting a wide course for most of the 1100m trip, but once he let down the handbrakes, it was clear the torrid run had not dented his chances as he quickly put the issue beyond doubt with a darting run to the line.

Newcomer Elena Of Avalor (Manoel Nunes) looked all poised to pick up top prize at her first run as she raced clear at the 300m, but Chocante, a former Victorian maiden (one second over 900m at Bendigo) who raced as Fill Fill, packed too many guns for the Echoes Of Heaven mare, sweeping past her for a 1 ¾-length win.

Big Wave (Derreck David) ran third another 1 ¾ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 5.24secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.

Vorster, who does not ride all that often for Baertschiger, was grateful his name was occasionally pulled out of the hat. His only other 2017 wins for Baertschiger came aboard Be Bee at his maiden win and Silent Prince.

“Thanks to Shane for throwing me a bone when he has his young horses going around. I really appreciate it,” said Vorster.

“I rode this horse at his first start and the blinkers proved too much for him. We took them off in a trial and he was more switched off.

“Today, I rode him back a couple and he was too good in the end.”