Dexter a notable booking for Franco Cristiano

His racing career is under four months old, but from his six starts to date he has made an enormous impression, establishing himself as a potential star act in the three year old ranks. He is Franco Cristiano and for his big spring assignment tomorrow, the Sires Stakes, he will have a new pilot, with world champion Dexter to do the steering.

Unbeaten in his first four starts, including the Forbury Park Sires Stakes heat, Franco Cristiano exhibited his speed and power, looking all over an excitement machine. However, things were derailed somewhat in his next start in a Super Series final at Addington. As a $1.40 favourite, he blew his chances after 500m, going into a gallop in the back straight after trying to jump a shadow and taking no part in the race.

In his most recent start at Addington he again looked back to the form of his early season starts. Drawn the outside gate he blasted out, going to the lead from the 1600m. From there he was able to control things from the top before relinquishing the lead from the 900m to stablemate Alta Las Vegas. Coming to the turn he was still travelling well and once able to take the passing lane he momentarily took the lead at the 200m. However, the early burn took its toll over the closing stages with Lazarus storming over the top to get the win and a game Classie Brigade outlasting him for second.

Doubts over the horse's temperament were again expressed after a mistake in a trial at Addington last week. He appeared to be bolting in the trail coming to the turn, but once eased into the passing lane he went into a gallop for seemingly no reason yet again, hardly the ideal preparation for his big spring assignment. However, John was quick to deflect any criticism of his charge's performance, indicating that it was the slow pace of the heat that had caused his charge to get a bit overkeen and that he had travelled well throughout.

While happy with the horse and its preparation John made a significant decision at the end of last week that will now see Dexter partner Franco Cristiano in tomorrow's Group One feature. 

"It was a tough call to be honest," said John. "He's not the easiest horse to drive though, so it made sense to put the best driver on. Dexter is a big race driver, its what he is paid to do."

In what seems to be a most unselfish decision from John, it may just turn out to be the midas touch. Drawn well in two, Dexter will be able to make the call early as to whether he pushes the button to lead, or to take a sit.

"He doesn't need to lead," said John. "There's going to be a lot of early pressure from both inside and out. Motown can really fly the gate and I'm picking that Art Form will be heading forward too. I actually think that he will be quite devastating taking a sit, but that is up to Dex to work out."

Dexter's first sit behind the horse came yesterday morning in a workout at Woodend Beach and he was suitably impressed.

Franco Cristiano with Dexter in the bike for the first time before trackwork yesterday.

"Yea he's got a motor for sure," he relayed. "He paced awesome," was the comment to Robert as he came back in from the track.

So its on to the big day and into the cauldron with established stars such as Lazarus and Chase The Dream. Providing he can handle the occasion and he performs to the best of his ability then he is sure to provide a good account.

Franco Cristiano hitting out beautifully in work yesterday morning

Posted: Mon 09 Nov 2015