Payne's Winter stocks boosted

Patrick Payne’s winter stocks have been boosted recently by the arrival of a team of five well-performed stayers from across the Tasman.

And the recruits are poised to begin returning dividends for their New Zealand-based connections at Moonee Valley on Wednesday.
Useful staying mare Soph and improving four-year-old Saint Romain were sent over on the recommendation of Kiwi trainer Kevin Myers, a long-time family friend and mentor to Payne.

Myers believed that the duo, along with stablemates Titch, Sparking and Pennon, would be perfectly placed to take advantage of healthy prizemoney levels in Victoria over winter.

“The prizemoney isn’t good enough in New Zealand so he (Myers) was keen to get a few of them over to me for the winter. They all like wet tracks and they all can stay,” Payne said.

Soph notched her second stakes placing when she was runner-up in the Group Three Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) at Riccarton in early May.

She finished midfield at her Australian debut at Flemington on June 5 but will strip fitter for Wednesday’s Essendon Jeep Cherokee Hcp (2040m).

“She’s a beautiful mare. Her Group Three run was on the South Island so it’s a little weaker than up north but she stays well and will run well,” Payne said.

Saint Romain needed the run when he resumed at Warrnambool but considerable improvement is expected when the son of Stark South tackles the Essendon Jeep Grand Cherokee Hcp (2040m).

While Soph and Saint Romain do battle at Moonee Valley, two of Payne’s other new additions will begin a jumps campaign with hurdle trials at Sandown.

Myers had identified both Titch and Sparking as potential jumps prospects in New Zealand and Payne is keen to get both qualified over hurdles as soon as possible.

Titch showed his stamina with a win over 2500m at Riccarton in May and has impressed Payne since arriving in Australia with three placings in metropolitan grade including a brave second to in-form stayer Black And Bent.

Sparking is looking to get his hurdle ticket having already completed a trial at Pakenham late last month.

Payne, who had a brief but successful stint as a jumps jockey after retiring from flat racing, will take three other horses to the trials – Sheer Platinum, unraced gelding Karnazes and Redoute’s Choice four-year-old Gravitas.