ELMORE'S Keith Cotchin has had bigger nights at the races, as evidenced by the pair of Group 1 victories which highlight his training resume.
But even so, his Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton was one right out of the box.
The astute trainer landed not one, but two Group 2 features with a pair of maiden pacers.
Cotchin took out the finals of both the Alabar Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings and three-year-old fillies.
First to strike was Denny Rocks, who claimed the colts and gelding's feature at odds of $34.
He was followed into the stall six races later by the black filly Diamond Shooz, the fourth favourite at $7 in the small field of eight.
It's no wonder Cotchin and his wife Shelly, a part-owner in Denny Rocks, were swamped by well-wishers on race night and spent much of Sunday answering congratulatory phone calls.
The 62-year-old trainer said it was easily one of his best nights in racing.
"It's pretty hard to replace the moment when we won the Victoria Derby (in 2008 with Tanabi Bromac), but it was a big night," he said.
READ MORE: Cotchin's fortunes changed by Tanabi Bromac
"I thought the filly would be very hard to beat - and Denny Rocks - we thought we were in with a chance and he could run in the placings and pick up a bit of money.
"We thought it would be hard from the draw (seven), but the way the race was run it was run to suit.
"He's always been an underrated horse, one of those ones you are always making a bit on excuse for. Things have gone wrong, but it all panned out well for him."
Denny Rocks, by Rock N Roll Heaven out of the mare Jodi Lindenny, had been winless in 11 previous starts before Saturday, but had been placed on five occasions.
Both Cotchin and John Caldow, who drove Denny Rocks, have long been convinced a breakthrough moment was on the horizon for the gelding.
"To his credit, he was a nice enough two-year-old and Keithy always stuck up for him - he always thought it would come and it's come at the right time," Caldow said.
"We sort of thought they'd have to go real hard early to give us any chance, so we were just going to go back and drive for luck.
"When they went real hard into the first corner I thought 'this is good', so I just went to the fence and it just worked out perfect down the back. I found Mick's back (Michael Stanley on Carramar Solomona) pretty easily and he carted me right into it to the top of the straight.
"It just worked out perfect."
Caldow was lavish in his praise of Cotchin's patience and overall training ability.
"He's a great trainer, he's good to drive for," he said.
"He prefers to look after the horse more than anything else.
"He would prefer it to run home not with a real hard, gut-buster, he likes them (the horses) to be looked after, especially early.
"That was the case again, he said try for luck and hope that it works out and it pretty much did."
At substantially larger odds with the bookmakers, Cotchin said it would be 'ideal to be able to knock off a maiden' in a Group 2 race every time as he did with Denny Rocks.
"He was stiff last year, he was third at Maryborough on Humbletonian Day (on December 8) and has been really stiff not to have won one," he said.
"We decided to give him a spell and try and win our bonus early in the season, but then we saw this race on the program and thought he was a chance of winning money.
"It worked out well, so he can go for a nice spell now."
Less of a surprise, but no less joyous was Diamond Shooz taking out the fillies edition.
The daughter of Betting Line out of the mare Art Start always looked in control after being driven straight to the front by James Herbertson and set up a convincing win by kicking clear from the 400m.
Nonparreil (Greg Sugars) flashed home for second, but was never any real threat with Diamond Shooz putting plenty of space between her and her rivals at the 100m.
Her maiden win came at start number five, on the back of three-straight placings, including back-to-back seconds.
Cotchin predicted a bright future for Diamond Shooz, who was sent to him by New South Wales trainer James Rattray, and is expected to remain at Elmore throughout the year.
"She's very well bred and I feel she is a chance of developing into something a bit more," he said.
"She's a half-sister to Expensive Ego and it's a really strong family. You would say on breeding she will get a lot better, she seems to be improving with each run.
"I was very lucky to get her and she will eventually go back home to James, but she will stay here for the meanwhile.
"She has the Vic Oaks and the Sires to keep her down here."
Diamond Shooz will also be spelled, with Cotchin hopeful she would be back 'bigger and stronger' within a few months.
Completing a triumphant night, Cotchin's AFL team returned to form, defeating the Western Bulldogs in style at the MCG on Saturday night.
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