Hometown hero Callsign Mav booked his ticket for a shot at the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley later this month when he took out the second leg of the Hawke’s Bay triple crown on Saturday, the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings.
The John Bary-trained son of Atlante had scored in the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) a fortnight ago and went into Saturday’s contest as the warm -125 favourite to make it two Group One wins in succession.
Ridden positively by regular pilot Jonathan Riddell, Callsign Mav sat outside pacemaker Tappy’s One on a moderate speed before applying the pressure approaching the home turn.
Sent to the front by Riddell early in the home straight, Callsign Mav always looked to have the situation in control as he held out the challenge of Prise De Fer by half a length with Gino Severini battling on nicely for third.
“We spoke about taking a sit on him today if we could as I was keen to keep off the rail,” Bary said.
“He’s done a great job and although he doesn’t win by much, he has won it.
“He is just a tough kind of horse. He’s never going to come flying from the back and it’s never going to look that exciting, but at the end of the day he has a winning habit going.
“I’m really happy for his owners and I’m really thrilled for my staff as well.”
Bary confirmed that Callsign Mav would have his next start in the Cox Plate on October 23.
“We will now spend the money to get him across to Melbourne,” he said.
“There’s nothing left for him to prove here, so he might as well go there and have a play with the big boys.
“It will be a big test, but if he’s good enough then he’s good enough and if not, we’ll find another race that suits.”
Riddell was confident he had the race under control after correctly predicting how the early stages would pan out.
“I had the idea that Chris’ (Johnson) horse (Tappy’s One) would do that and that was the perfect spot for me outside the leader,” he said.
“He (Callsign Mav) just purred along and then did what he does as he put his head up and gawked around.
“When you get at him, he puts his head down again and nothing much is going to get past him.
“I was a little worried when I saw Prise De Fer coming, but knowing the horse and knowing John and his team had said he was better than day one, I was pretty confident.”
Raced by a large syndicate that includes Bary himself, Callsign Mav was fittingly bred by race sponsor Windsor Park Stud and was sold as a weanling at Karaka to Emily Holmes for just NZD$3,000. The son of ill-fated sire Atlante has now won seven of his 19 starts and over NZD$565,000 in prizemoney.
Callsign Mav will now head to the Melbourne stable of caretaker trainer Danny O’Brien before tackling the Cox Plate, a race where he is rated a +2000 chance on the Fixed Odds market, behind red-hot -111.11 favourite Zaaki.