Trainer John Sadler believes an on-song Linton can take Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival by storm...

Trainer John Sadler believes an on-song Linton can take Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival by storm after the gelding broke his Group 1 maiden in yesterday’s $1.35 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm, reports Racing Victoria.

Fresh from his “greatest thrill in racing”, the Malua Racing head trainer confirmed plans to again target the $3 million Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on 26 October with the rising seven year-old.

Sadler admitted Linton was below his best and should never have run when 12th behind Ocean Park in last year’s race and said while a number of Group 1 features remain options in the spring, he would love to again target Moonee Valley’s weight-for-age championship.

“I actually wouldn’t mind in the spring to stretch him out in distance and I would like to go to the Cox Plate again and give him another try,” Sadler told Sky Racing.

“We’ll give him a couple of lead-ups to that race, maybe the Toorak Handicap, or maybe just set him for the Emirates Stakes but we’ve got plenty time because he’s going to spend three weeks up in Queensland.

“The interesting thing for a lot of horse people is that when we ran this horse in the Cox Plate last spring we had a lot of trouble with him, we made a mistake and continued with his preparation when he wasn’t going well and he should never have run in the Cox Plate.

“The day he went to the Cox Plate he weighed 456 kilograms and yesterday when he got on the float to go to Eagle Farm he was 510 kilograms.”

Considered a stayer for much of his career, the former Robert Hickmott-trained galloper confirmed the short-course talent Sadler had long thought present in four runs this campaign, including wins in the Group 3 R.A. Lee Stakes (1600m) and Listed City of Adelaide Stakes (1400m), both at Morphettville.

It was these lead-up performances, including a luckless first-up fifth behind champion mare Black Caviar in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m), that convinced the Malua team the Stradbroke was within Linton’s grasp.

The addition of blinkers, some solid hurdle schooling and an impressive jump-out behind Newmarket Handicap winner Shamexpress had Sadler confident the son of Galileo could break his Group 1 maiden at his 10th attempt for patient new owner Stefan Friborg.

We thought he would always enjoy a few hurdles in front of him to get him to focus and we put the blinkers on him,” Sadler said.

“I’d have to say 1400m is his very best journey but I think (he’ll be competitive) anywhere between that 1400m range to 2000m and you’ve got to remember this horse should’ve actually run second to Black Caviar (William Reid) if the race had been run in earnest,” Sadler said.

“His first win in Adelaide over the 1400m where he lumped a lot of weight was a really good win but in his second win over there he put them (rivals) away between the half mile and the 400m and I thought he was going to run away and beat them by four or five (lengths) but he really loafed up the straight.

“I felt after that he was a real chance because there was quite a bit of improvement in the horse and when we trained him in that manner he absolutely thrived on it.

“After we started schooling him he gave the appearance that he thought he could walk on water so leading into the race we were confident.”