A gutsy front-running effort saw Valante defy his rivals to run him down in the Kiwifruit Cup (2100m) at Tauranga on Saturday.
The Graeme Lord-trained seven-year-old was niggled at in front throughout the 2100 metre journey but refused to lie down as he fought off the late challenges of The Kipling Girl and Redcayenne, beating the pair by a head and a quarter of a length respectively.
“The puggy track was what he had been waiting for all winter,” Lord said.
“This was one of the races I had been setting him for since he got beaten in the Wairoa Cup in February and when we went to Ruakaka last week it was a bit of a bonus running third. If he had won, we knew he would still be getting into this on the minimum (weight).
“He won at Waipa a year ago on a puggy track and to have 53 kilograms on his back today was a bonus. He’s one tough boy and I’m just rapt.”