Tough as teak Dolcetto shrugged off his bridesmaid tag as he prevailed in a thrilling four-way finish to the second of the feature events at Wanganui today, the Listed $50,000 AG Challenge Stakes (1600m).

The Sylvia Kay-trained six-year-old had been thereabouts in his recent starts but had failed to greet the judge since winning at Awapuni back in December 2017. In his defence, 11 of his 15 subsequent runs have been in stakes company including a last start third in the Listed Rangitikei Gold Cup (1600m) a fortnight ago.

The Per Incanto gelding entered today’s contest as one of the fittest horses in the event, a factor that played well in his favour on a deep and testing heavy-11 surface that saw a number of favoured candidates struggling with more than 600m to run.

Rider Rosie Myers kept Dolcetto in a challenging position throughout and set out after local mare She’s Poppy and three-year-old Platinum Rapper who had swooped up to challenge for the lead as the field turned for home.

Myers urged Dolcetto to the front where he dug deep in the last few strides to down Rosewood, who had tracked him through in the straight and Platinum Rapper in a dour finish, with She’s Poppy close up in fourth.

The drama didn’t end there however as the protest siren sounded with a second versus first enquiry launched by stipendiary stewards which was decided in Dolcetto’s favour after a lengthy deliberation.

Kay was delighted that her charge had broken his long run of outs with a deserved victory.

“He is fit although I don’t know if he looked that happy (in the ground),” Kay said.

“He got the job done and thank goodness for that as it is about time he had a win.

“There is a big difference between first and second and third and fourth money, so it’s nice to get a win this time as he thoroughly deserves it as he tries so hard.”

The winner of eight of his first twelve starts, Dolcetto has now won on nine occasions and more than $289,000 in prize money for his owners Chris and Helen Bishop along with Kay and the estate of her late husband Paddy.