Punters got it spot on in the feature event at Te Rapa on Saturday, as favourite Dragon Leap defeated second elect Skew Wiff in a thrilling finish to the Gr.2 Waikato Stud Foxbridge Plate (1200m).
The Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott trained seven-year-old had looked to be peaking nicely after he boomed home to take an Open 1100m contest at Ruakaka earlier in the month, and took plenty of late money to close as the $3 favourite.
Jockey Warren Kennedy had him nicely situated in midfield as El Vencedor and Wewillrock shared a steady tempo in front, before creeping forward approaching the home bend.
Skew Wiff, racing in the ownership of sponsors Waikato Stud looked to have a fairy tale result in the bag at the 200m as she burst to the lead, however Kennedy had Dragon Leap in full flight at this point as he joined issue quickly before putting his head in front to claim a well-deserved victory.
O'Sullivan, who describes the horse as one of the most popular in their Matamata stable, was feeling deeply satisfied with result.
"That was just fantastic and great to see a horse, who is a real favourite at home, get a reward like that," he said.
"Some say he is better than ever, but I think in reality it is the fact that his feet are fine, his action is good, and he is as sound as he has ever been.
"We were a little concerned that the track might be too wet for him, but Andrew and I planned to have him close to the mark by sending him to Ruakaka, which really cleaned him up nicely.
"He also got a great run and ride from Warren, who had him in the right part of the track and he did the rest."
O'Sullivan will now attempt to snare a Group One prize for owners Hermitage Thoroughbreds with the next start for his charge being the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings.
"The Tarzino is our next plan as Scotty and I both believe he is a short course type," he said.
"He did go over ground as a three-year-old but he really does seem better kept to sprinting.
"If he can go well at Hastings we will probably look to give him a break as he does well with his races spaced and the Railway (Gr.1, 1200m) and Telegraph (Gr.1, 1200m) are nice options in the summer."
TAB Bookmakers reacted swiftly as they installed the son of Pierro the $5 Fixed Odds third favourite for the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings on 9 September behind La Crique and Legarto, who are both listed at a quote of $4.50.
A high class three-year-old where he won the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) and Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) in successive starts before finishing fourth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), Dragon Leap has now won six of his 20 starts and in excess of $491,000 in prizemoney.
The win also rounded out a treble on the day for the stable with promising maiden stayer Strathtay successful over 1600m in race three, while honest mare Highlighter made in three wins on end when successful over 1200m at Awapuni.