Darren McAuliffe justifiably sits in the top bracket of WA trainers.

Over the last two decades his racing cv gives solid evidence of his status.

McAuliffe’s trained a host of major winners including at the elite level in Melbourne.

Gatting’s stunning upset win at  triple figure odds in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington a career-high .

So, when the astute horseman gives Saturday’s impressive Ascot winner Chollima a massive rap it’s worth taking note and digging for more validation.

The Starspangledbanner filly gave a glimpse of what was on offer for McAuliffe and connections when putting together two wins from her opening three starts.

But after finishing seventh in the Listed Burgess Queen Stakes (1400m) at Ascot in November, McAuliffe feared he may have seen the last of Chollima.

The three-year-old suffered a raft of injury and illness complaints that threatened to end her budding career before it even got off the ground.

There were occasions when McAuliffe could have given up on Chollima, but after the weekend’s win his faith and leap of faith in her was rewarded.

“We rode her too handy in the Burgess Queen Stakes and she didn’t really run on,” McAuliffe said.

“I was pretty disappointed and then she injured herself on the truck on the way back home.

“She hurt her nostril and then got colic and colitis and we were so close to losing her.

“But a big thank you to my wife at home and we nursed her back to health.

“She’s as good a horse that I’ve had come through.

“She’s a handful, but you put up with it.”

Chollima kept her fresh record intact, three from three, when bursting through between runners to defeat Rockin Rupert’ and Becalotti.

Ridden by Clint Johnston-Porter she was in danger of traffic problems, but exploded clear in the straight and scored by ¾ of a length.

McAuliffe said Chollima will target upcoming 3YO winter features at Belmont, kicking off in the Belmont Guineas (1600m) in June.

Julio Santarelli