Crosshaven victorious in Exford Plate

Lindsay Park’s hand in next month’s Caulfield Guineas was strengthened following the Exford Plate victory of Smart Missile gelding Crosshaven at Flemington on Saturday.

Just days after stablemate Aysar resumed with his second-consecutive mid-week city win over 1300 metres at Sandown Hillside, Crosshaven won his three-year-old Listed feature over 1400m.

Crosshaven ($9) raced outside the leader Bartley ($4.80) and the pair controlled the tempo of the race before Crosshaven dashed home better to score by 1.5 lengths.

“It was a super run today and stepping up to 1400 metres was a big key,” said winning rider Daniel Stackhouse.

“He just had a chance to travel for a bit longer before I had to go for him. He’s still a big, raw gelding so he’ll take great benefit from today, I think.

“The plan was to take our time and get him into a really good rhythm. You can see that he’s still not stretching out a hundred per cent, still learning what he’s doing.”

Crosshaven won both two-year-old starts and then finished sixth, beaten a length, when he was tightened at the winning post resuming in the Group 3 McNeil Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago.

Ben Hayes, who trains Crosshaven in partnership with Tom Dabernig, confirmed their intention for the Smart Missile gelding to be prepared for the $2 million G1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 10.

Both Crosshaven and Aysar will have their next start in the $200,000 G3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) on September 26. Crosshaven is a $15 chance to emulate Long John in 2013 in completing the Exford Plate and Caulfield Guineas double, while Aysar is a $17 hope within the market.

Dabernig and Hayes have trained five Melbourne winners this season, four of them new-season three-year-olds.

Cherry Tortoni ($5.50) was best of the swoopers in third, an obvious eye-catcher first-up after ending last prep by winning the Listed Taj Rossi Final (1600m) at Flemington in July.

His next start will be in the G2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on September 25, with the long-term aim the G1 Victoria Derby (2500m) on October 31.

Mick Price had three runners in the Exford Plate, a race he won with future G1 winner Tavistock in 2008, with maiden Ironedge ($15) his highest-placed finisher in fifth.

National Choice ($17) never entered the call after going back from his wide barrier when 10th of 11 while Immortal Love ($3.70 favourite) was eased down by rider Craig Newitt and finished last, the only horse that didn’t break 11.9 seconds for their final 200m, which underlined the sit-sprint tempo of the race.


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