Well-backed favourite Emblems held off a late charge from Dances On Stars and My Destiny to record a narrow victory in the Listed Takeover Target Stakes (1200m).
Emblems was positioned nicely on the fence by jockey Kerrin McEvoy and he kicked clear with 300 metres left to run, but looked as though he was going to be run down by the much improved My Destiny and Dances On Stars, who flashed home down the centre of the track.
The son of Shamardal dug deep to hold the fast-finishing pair and record his third straight victory after taking out the International Animal Health Handicap (1150m) and Rosehill Gardens Handicap (1200m) in December.
Stable Representative Brad Widdup, standing in for trainer Peter Snowden who is at the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions sale, said that the Darley team had been delighted with the form of the four-year-old and revealed that this has always been the major summer target for the untapped sprinting talent.
“He has really hit his straps and he is in good form,” Widdup said after the race.
“He is having a real dig at the moment.
“Peter had him aimed at this; his first run back was a bit disappointing but he has put it together now and he has the Stakes race behind him.
“We will have to have a look now (at races) later on down the track because he is racing well enough now.”
McEvoy said that the plan was always to ride Emblems aggressively in the early stages of the race and praised the way that the talented galloper dug deep to hold off Dances On Stars and My Destiny in the final hundred metres of the race.
“It was a hard test for him out there,” McEvoy said.
“They really served it up to me and I rode him pretty aggressively.
“I expected a bit more of a rest coming around the bend but they kept coming so I had to kick to hold the rail.
“He was good enough to hold them off and it was a dogged win and a tough win.
“Full credit to the horse; he has done a super job this time in.
“He is a nice sprinter and he is up to winning some nice black type races throughout his career.”
McEvoy and Darley will have the opportunity to win two more stakes races at Gosford this afternoon; with the leading jockey partnering La Pieta in the Group 3 Belle Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) and Solemn in the Listed Gosford Cup (2100m).