SUTTON Grange trainer Graeme Dalton has continued his good form with another winner at Ballarat on Friday night.
After a win at Maryborough last Wednesday with Bad Boy Jay Jay, Dalton brought up a second win in 13 days with Nephew of Sonoko.
Driven by Chris Alford, the three-year-old trotter made it three wins from 17 starts with a last-gasp win over the 2200m distance at Bray Raceway.
Dalton, who was not at Ballarat and instead delegated the handling responsibilities to his nephew Ross Graham, said he had been reasonably confident of success on Friday.
"The little bloke went well .... I thought if he could do everything right he would be in with a show," he said.
"At his previous start (at Ballarat on May 16) he did a few things wrong and was pulled up in the run, so it was a matter of cross your fingers.
"He hasn't been racing real well. When he trots well he has seemingly got a good deal of talent, but he's very green. The horse is still learning."
Dalton said an obvious target for Nephew of Sonoko going forward would be the Victoria Derby, but he remained unconvinced the gelding was quite up to the class.
"I think it might be better to take it just one race at a time," he said.
"It (the Derby) is still a little way off, but I feel that he has to be going a bit better than he actually is.
"He would have to improve a bit, but we have the fingers crossed."
Dalton was delighted for the syndicate behind Bad Boy Jay Jay, whose owners include his nephew Leigh Graham, after the gelding's win at Maryborough.
The six-year-old trotter now has six career wins, three of them under the training of Dalton, who took on the horse in late 2018.
The success of Nephew of Sonoko and those of young Heathcote driver Tayla French aboard the Jeremy Quinlan-trained You Ninety Two and the Kyneton-trained Arrested, also at Ballarat, boosted the tally of winners Bendigo-trained or driven winners to 18 since since last Sunday's meeting at Bendigo.
Dalton said it was a remarkable achievement.
"Glenn Douglas is going very well, his horses are flying - and there are plenty of others picking up winners," he said.
"Young Tayla French, who got a winner (Friday) night too, is driving well and is very capable."
Dalton will have two runners tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton, including With Gusto, who will be chasing his 22nd win at start number 132.
"He's in claiming grade and they are a bit easier, but on the other side he is not getting any younger either," he said.
"Every race he has is one closer to retirement for him.
"While he is going and while he is sound we will keep racing him, but he's on a very tight mark. Unless you put him in claimers there's not much else for him."
The veteran trainer was less confident of the chances of the enigmatic Son of Sonoko.
"He has all the ability in the world - he's been around and thinks he knows more than anyone else," he said.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.