CHRIS Svanosio rates Sparkling Success as the best horse he has ever sat behind.
But the Bendigo trainer-driver says the recent exploits of Tough Monarch have put the eight-year-old gelding into the 'best-ever' discussion.
Svanosio picked up a second Group 3 win in eight days aboard the Rickie Alchin-trained trotter in the $24,000 Maori's Idol Free For All at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.
The win gave Svanosio back-to-back wins in the Maori's Idol, after he partnered Sparkling Success to victory in last year's race.
As it turned out that was Sparkling Success' last race start and win, before being struck down by the suspensory ligament injury, which ended the dreams of trainer John Meade and Svanosio of competing in the $1.3 million Yonkers International Trot in the United States in October of that year.
While the dual Group 1-winner has yet to re-emerge, Svanosio has found plenty of success in the meantime with the Sydney-trained Tough Monarch.
Saturday night's win was his third in seven starts aboard the still improving trotter, who downed a class field headed by big guns Tornado Valley, Kyvalley Blur, Pantzup and Big Jack Hammer.
"To beat those horses, who have won all the big races the last couple for years, Tough Monarch has really stamped himself," Svanosio said.
"I'm pretty proud about winning that race two years in a row.
"Sparkling Success is the best horse I've driven, but I didn't think I'd get on another one in his class for a while, but (Tough Monarch) is not too far behind.
"He's eight-years-old, but he hasn't been overraced. Rickie has just kept giving him time, he's matured that much in the last few months from when I first drove him.
"He's come down from Sydney absolutely flying and they've been able to keep him ticking over."
His win on Saturday has earned Tough Monarch a trip to New Zealand, where he will be aimed at the $300,000 Group 1 The Dominion during New Zealand Cup week.
Looking ahead, Svanosio is eagerly anticipating the return to racing of stable newcomer Repeat After Me following a slashing trial at Lord's Raceway last Sunday, when driven by Tayla French.
The former Robert Rothacker-trained gelding produced a 1:53 last mile, up there with his 1:52.4 best.
He will also drive another Alchin-trained horse in Mony Mony in this Saturday night's Alabar Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic for three-year-old fillies at Melton.
Mony Mony qualified for the final with a third on debut in her heat at Lord's Raceway last Thursday.
Strathfieldsaye trainer Glenn Douglas was also among the winners at Melton on Saturday night, with Valentina Brave.
It continued a strong start to the month of September for the Bendigo trotting fraternity, with seven training and 12 driving wins so far.
The most recent came at Maryborough on Monday, with Douglas (Ima A Lister) and Maree Campbell (Belittled) helping themselves to training wins, and Tayla French opening her account in the sulky aboard the Colin Godden-trained Lights And Music.
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