The Sportsman Weekend

Monte’s on song

Payne belives his classy mare can win the Chelmsford

- SHAYNE O’CASS

THERE was a time when David Payne won three Chelmsford’s in the space of four years, all with mares but none of them

talent or C.V his 2021 big race candidate, Montefilia.

Payne, whose Group 1 wins exceed 100, has declared Cupsbound mare Montefilia ready to emulate past Chelmsford winners Unearthly, Nevis and Gallant Tess in this weekend’s Group 2 feature.

“She’s on track and is really well,” Payne reported.

“She has come back very good and is much stronger. “We’ll be trying our hardest

I think she will be competitiv­e for sure.”

The Chelmsford has been, since it’s first running in 1895, an important marker for spring success with an honour roll that includes four immortals Phar Lap, Tulloch, Kingston Town and Winx as well as a host of Champions with capital ‘C’ like Lonhro, Might And Power, Emancipati­on and Bernboroug­h.

Unlike Payne’s trio of past Chelmsford winners, the race is anything but a career highlight much less Grand Final when it comes to Montefilia.

The daughter of Kermadec has numerous options this spring, one of them scheduled for the first Tuesday in November.

“She will go to the Kingston Town after Saturday and that will tell us if she is up to Caulfield Cup standard,” Payne said.

“We have put her in the Melbourne Cup so if she steps up, why not a crack. I think she is bred to stay all day.”

Montefilia, Hawkesbury maiden winner on debut at $51, graduated to become one of Payne’s now typical ‘classic’ types.

Unlike predecesso­rs, Ace High and Criterion who were able to win their respective Derby’s, Montefilia fell short in her three classics beginning with her third in the VRC Oaks.

Fast forward to the autumn of 2021 and Montefilia was beaten an average two and a half lengths in the ATC Derby and ATC Oaks but Payne remains adamant that his then filly never got the chance to capitalise on her stamina.

“I just thought the pace was muddling in both races,” he said.

“They went slow in both those races which didn’t suit her because she is not a horse that can sit and sprint. She has got to wind up so the faster the pace the better for her.”

While the Chelmsford has been kind to Payne, a Montefilia win would still have him one short of Chris Waller who has won the feature five times in the last eight years.

That said, arguably the most interestin­g runner in Randwick mile tomorrow is Anthony Cummings-trained 2019 Hungarian Horse of the Year Nancho who makes his Australian debut.

 ??  ?? Montefilia is first-up in the Chelmsford Stakes tomorrow on a path to the Cups. Pic: Grant Guy.
Montefilia is first-up in the Chelmsford Stakes tomorrow on a path to the Cups. Pic: Grant Guy.

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