Michelle Payne has the 2016 Crown Oaks in site for former Kiwi-trained filly Queen Of Zealand as the Melbourne Cup winning jockey begins her training career.
Payne holds a dual-licence and both rides and trains horses, including Savabeel three-year-old Queen Of Zealand who has been transferred to her care from that of New Zealand horseman Wayne Jones.
The progressive filly is nominated for the $1 million Group 1 VRC Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington Racecourse on Thursday November 3, and the Ballarat-based Payne is taking her time gearing the youngster up for the Melbourne Cup Carnival classic.
To date Queen Of Zealand has had just two runs back in New Zealand, the latest producing a third behind Its Time For Magic in the Listed The O’Leary’s Fillies Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui in early September.
That same raced saw La Luna Rossa finish second, the Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman-trained daughter of Written Tycoon franking the form with her brave second to Legless Veuve in the Group 2 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) on September 24.
La Luna Rossa also holds a Crown Oaks nomination and is accepted to run second-up at Caulfield on Saturday in the $500,000 Group 1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m).
Queen Of Zealand meanwhile was down to debut for Payne in Victoria at Stawell, but was scratched pre-the meeting’s cancelation due to an unsuitable Heavy track on Tuesday.
Payne is excited to have the filly in her stable and is re-evaluating first-up targets.
“She’s a really nice filly picked out by Kevin Myers over in New Zealand,” Payne, who has had three rides in the Crown Oaks to date without a top three finish, told Racing Ahead on RSN 927.
“She’s got the right constitution and attitude you look for in a filly you’re aiming for the Oaks – she’s clean-winded and athletic.
“I’m really excited to get her there.
“Obviously, fillies are pretty fragile and you want to take your time and give them every opportunity, so that’s what I’m focussing on now.”
Possible races Payne is considering as a Crown Oaks lead-up for Queen Of Zealand include the $23,000 Silks Function Centre Maiden Plate (1300m) at Bendigo on Thursday or a 1400m Maiden Plate at Cranbourne on Sunday.
“I’ll see what she draws and what the field looks like,” Payne said of the Thursday option at Bendigo where Queen Of Zealand is drawn barrier 11 of 15.
“There’s also an option to go to Cranbourne on Sunday, or either just give her a trial.
“We’ll make sure we make the right decision.”
All-in Crown Oaks betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has Queen Of Zealand listed as a $61 outsider in futures markets.
The current pre-field Crown Oaks odds on the nominated fillies are led by Harlow Gold ($5) and Yankee Rose ($8).
The Lindsay Park-trained Tavistock filly Harlow Gold was last seen winning over the Caulfield mile on September 27 in a three-years-old handicap.
She runs in Saturday’s Thousand Guineas field at the same track and distance from barrier one where the Chris Waller-trained Sydney raider Foxplay is the filly to beat.
The David Vandyke-trained Yankee Rose meanwhile is nominated for a Sydney run on Saturday in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) after her second to Global Glamour in last weekend’s Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m).
Check out the latest Thousand Guineas markets and futures Crown Oaks odds, first acceptances for the latter closing on October 18, online now at Ladbrokes.com.au.