The airborne Kelly Schweida-trained...
Trainer David Payne is confident his in-form three-year-old Ace High can win Sydney’s final spring Group 1 taking out the 2017 Spring Champion Stakes on Saturday on way to Melbourne’s VRC Derby next month.
This weekend the Group 1 $500,000 Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) steals the show at Royal Randwick and all the money in the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au are on the Payne-trained Ace High ($3.50).
The well-bred High Chaparral colt certainly has the gun Spring Champion Stakes form lines having easily outstayed his rivals after an on-speed ride at Rosehill on September 23 in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m).
Three of the past five Spring Champion Stakes winners were Gloaming Stakes graduates and this year Ace High is tipped to join Vanbrugh (2015), Complacent (2013) and It’s A Dundeel (2012) as the latest horses to do the double.
Payne believes Ace High will have no issues over the extra metres on Saturday with Tye Angland retaining the ride from barrier four in the Group 1.
“He’s bred to run it right out,” Payne told Racing NSW.
“If there’s no speed we’ll go forward for sure but if there is speed he can sit just off them. It doesn’t worry him, he’s adaptable.
“We’ve had no hiccups, touch wood, we go in with a good chance and what will be will be. As long as he gets his chance that’s all I’m worried about.”
A $130,000 purchase for Summertime Thoroughbreds, the main aim this spring with Ace High is a Flemington run on November 4 in the Group 1 $1.5 million Victoria Derby (2500m).
Last year Prized Icon ran third in the Spring Champion Stakes and won the VRC Derby two starts later.
All-in Victoria Derby odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au list Ace High as the equal $9 favourite for the Melbourne Cup Carnival classic along with the Anthony Freedman-trained Tavistock Abbey.
Former South African horseman Payne hasn’t prepared a Group 1 winner since the 2014 ATC Derby win of Criterion over three years ago.
Criterion enjoyed his first Group 1 placing in the 2013 Spring Champion Stakes running second to Complacent before a fourth to Polanski in that year’s Victoria Derby.
Payne said it would be wonderful to break the drought, especially with Ace High who is owned by the trainer’s long-time supporter John Cordina.
“I’d love to win a Group 1 for him. He’s so loyal and he’s stuck with me through thick and thin,” Payne said.
“James Bester really got me going when I came here with Dante’s Paradiso.
“Then he introduced me to John Camilleri who gave me Unearthly [Payne’s first Australian Group 1 winner] and John introduced me to John Cordina who is his cousin.
“We’ve been close a few times, Gallant Tess was placed in five Group 1s and probably should have won a Coolmore and Centennial Park was just beaten by Danleigh in a Chipping Norton.”
Payne bookends the Spring Champion Stakes betting markets in 2017 also saddling-up the $51 roughie in the markets Colesberg.
Jason Collett rides the Congrats gelding from one on the inside of the star stablemate, Colesberg out to improve on the disappointing eighth in the Gloaming Stakes.
“It was hard for him to make ground from last the way that race was run,” he said.
“He’s peaking at the right time. That’s all you can do, try to have them ready on the day and he seems fine.”
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