Trainer Phillip Stokes is targeting the two feature Melbourne sprints over the holiday period with his in-form gallopers Sansom and Defiant Dancer.

Sansom, who has won his past two starts, will run in the Christmas Stakes at Caulfield on Boxing Day and Defiant Dancer, who has won his past four starts, will contest the Standish Handicap at Flemington on January 1.

Sansom had two starts over the spring for a win at The Valley over 1200 metres and a Group Three victory in the Chatham Stakes at Flemington over 1400 metres when he defeated Morvada.

After he won on the final day of the Flemington carnival, Stokes devised a plan to run Sansom at Caulfield before heading to the Magic Millions race day at the Gold Coast on January 16 to compete in either the Cup over 1400 metres or the Snippets over 1200 metres.

“The Christmas Stakes is a stakes race and it was always a nice race to head for on the way to the Magic Millions,” Stokes said.

“He’s had a nice freshen up and I was really happy with his gallop on Tuesday.”

Sansom has won eight of his 17 starts and the trainer says he is continually improving.

“He’s got stronger and more mature which has allowed him to step up the ladder. He’s not yet a top-liner but he’s a really nice horse with a will to win,” he said.

Ben Allen, who has ridden him to win his past two starts, will again be aboard in the Christmas Stakes and will probably stay on him at the Gold Coast.

Defiant Dancer, who was successful over 1200 metres at Flemington last Saturday, will return to the same track and distance on New Year’s Day when he runs in the Standish Handicap.

“He’s in great form and he’s another progressive horse,” Stokes said.

A field of 10 will line up in the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) with Godolphin’s Pandemic an early TAB fixed odds favourite.



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