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Sghirripa Spaces Standish Field

13 January 2024 Written by Racing & Sports

Sghirripa gives trainers Shane and Cassie Oxlade the biggest win of their career in the Group 3 Standish Handicap at Flemington.

It appears the sky is the limit for Sghirripa who is progressing rapidly through the Melbourne sprinting ranks, notching up his first group win with a dominant victory in the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) down the Flemington straight.

A last-start winner of the Listed Xmas Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield, $2.05 favourite Sghirripa put three lengths on his nearest rival with pair of $8 chances Crosshaven and Curran dead heating for second.

For the Strathalbyn father-daughter training duo, Sghirripa has the opportunity to provide a taste of Group One racing in the future, with the four-year-old likely to be targeted at next month's Oakleigh Plate.

"I've been lucky enough to win a couple of other group three's back at home and they're good races but I've never had a horse as good at this bloke, I've said for a long while I think he's the best horse I've had and he just keeps lifting the bar," Shane Oxlade said.

"That's been the plan since he was lucky enough to win last start, things can always change but as present he'll go home tomorrow night, be in the paddock Tuesday morning for eight or ten days and I guess that gives us time to make up our mind."

Connections of Sghirripa after winning the Standish Handicap at Flemington (Photo by Pat Scala/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

A son of Lonhro, Sghirripa has always shown plenty of talent, winning his maiden by 6.3 lengths at Morphettville in September 2022 and did run a narrow fourth down the straight behind Legio Ten in June last year, but has gone to a new level as a four-year-old, winning four of five starts this preparation.

"Just maturity, he was a bit new then… he's always been a sensible horse, travels well, just does everything you can ask a nice horse to do," Oxlade said.

Given how well Sghirripa handled the straight course, the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) is also a potential target after the Oakleigh Plate, with a race such as the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) another likely target in his home state in May.

Jockey Craig Newitt has ridden some top sprinters in his time and was full of praise for Sghirripa.

"It was pretty painless, I probably had to expose him a bit early too, he got a little bit keen mid-race but he was just travelling that well… he's got a massive stride on him, a big engine, and really really good ability," Newitt said.