Cross Talk takes out the Winter Challenge

The decision to move the washed-out Winter Challenge back a week has proven fortuitous for connections of emerging miler Cross Talk, who has run his rivals ragged to claim the final stakes event of the season.

The race has also been a happy one for the owners of high-class import Gold Trip, who made an eye-catching Australian debut to finish third.

But the afternoon belonged to Cross Talk, who got the job done at both ends of the race, working early to wrest the lead from Snippy Fox and kicking strongly to post his first Listed win.

He wasn’t among nominations for the 1500m race at Randwick last Saturday, but trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott were glad they opted to throw him in the mix the second time around.

“We didn’t necessarily intend on being in this particular race today,” Bott said.

“We thought we’d test in this grade (but it’s) a little bit quicker than what we thought, so we might have to have a rethink about what we do next.

“Every time we’ve challenged him he has really come back strongly and today he has done it again.”

Cross Talk has now won three of his four starts this preparation and Bott will see how he comes through Saturday’s assignment before deciding whether to give him another run.

But longer-term, he believes the gelding has the makings of a classy mile to middle-distance horse, outlining plans to aim him towards The Ingham, formerly the Villiers Stakes, in the summer.

“I think he’s going to be a really stronger miler for us and potentially (we might) stretch him out in trip, he’s got that really high cruising speed,” Bott said.

Gold Trip’s co-trainer David Eustace was heartened by his charge’s performance as they plot a course towards the Cox Plate.

The horse was controversially scratched from the Moonee Valley feature last year then had another issue that kept him out of action in the autumn, prompting his belated start to his Australian career.

“I feel a little bit relieved,” Eustace said.

“I was just pleased to see him finish off. To his credit, he was off the bit the whole way and most horses like that drop out. His class took him into the race and then actually take a hand in the race.”

Cross Talk ($2.60 fav) scored by two lengths over Toomuchtobear ($8.50) with Gold Trip ($11) another 1-1/4 away in third.

About RS NewsWire

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