Crosshaven Back to Best in Kevin Heffernan
27 November 2022
A popular saying in racing is that form is temporary and class is permanent, and high-quality Karaka graduate Crosshaven (Smart Missile) provided living proof with a welcome return to a winning groove in Saturday’s A$200,000 Group Three Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Bought for $80,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2019, the gelding has now had 22 starts for six wins, three placings and A$836,203 in stakes.
Most of those wins and earnings came from his first seven starts, which produced five wins including the Group Three Carbine Club Stakes (1600m), Group Three Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) and Listed Exford Plate (1400m).
More than two years had passed since Crosshaven’s last win in the A$250,000 Carbine Club Stakes during the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington in 2020, during which time he had lined up in 14 races.
But Crosshaven’s connections never lost the faith, and on Saturday they were rewarded with one of the performances of his career. Ridden by Mark Zahra for trainers Ben and JD Hayes, the five-year-old tracked the early leaders in third before taking charge at the home turn.
Norwegian Bliss (NZ) (El Roca) chased him hard down the home straight, but Crosshaven sent a clear message that he is far from a spent force, kicking hard and scoring by three-quarters of a length.
“We’ve had to be very patient with him,” Ben Hayes said. “He’s often threatened and just been narrowly beaten, and the owners have been very patient with us, which has been good. Together we’ve got a result like that. Well done to his breeders (Daniel and Elias Nakhle) in New Zealand and to everyone at home.
“Mark got him to relax today, which was the key and it was good to see him really hit the line.
“He was getting frustrating, but to win a big race on a day like this is rewarding. We’ll have a good think about future plans now. His rating is going to go right up, so we’ll have to look at what’s around.”
Zahra relied on his previous experience with Crosshaven to get the very best out of his mount in Saturday’s feature.
“I didn’t have much of a plan going into the race, but it just worked out perfect,” he said. “A couple of them kicked up and I didn’t have a lot of cover from the wind down that far side, which is important today. He wanted to come out, but I waited and made him wait for another 200 metres and he did a good job.
“He’s got that style where his head comes right up, and he did a good job to fight on today. He’s definitely better fending them off than trying to catch them. The favourite had a crack at him, but he was holding it at the line.
“Knowing the horse helps a lot. If I hadn’t ridden him before today, I reckon I would have peeled earlier and come out. They didn’t go that hard, but I just wanted him to wait and get to the middle of the track, let him feel the horse outside him, just to make him do enough.”
|Lindsay Park Racing (Victoria)
|Smart Missile – Irish Colleen
|Lot 103, Karaka 2019 Book 1, $80,000
|Mr D Nakhle & E Nakhle