A decision to give lightly raced five-year-old Xavier an extended break after just one run last winter proved a winning move when the gelding scored at Geelong.

Trainer Vincent Malady said the son of Holy Roman Emperor had endured his share of issues and this campaign had come back firing with a win and two seconds from his three runs.

“He had a couple of little problems and kept tying up last prep so we gave him a good break and it is paying dividends.”

First-up Xavier was beaten in a photo finish at Terang on February 23 and was again second at Echuca before landing Thursday’s Geelong Taxi Network Maiden Plate (1130m).

Sitting midfield and four lengths off the lead on the rails, Xavier ($2.35 fav.) was suited by the strong pace set by Boulder County ($11) and railed through to hit the front in the final 50 metres and score by a half-length, with Exciting Times ($41) another 1-1/4 lengths away third.

He has now had just seven starts for a win and three second placings.

“This is his best campaign, and he should keep improving,” Vincent said.

Xavier was given a warning for being difficult to load in the barriers at Echuca but he was on his best behaviour at Geelong and pinged nicely from the gates.

“I expected him to be closer in the run but the strong tempo of the race suited and he picked up well,” jockey John Allen said.

“He’s been racing well, and he deserved to win.”

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