The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
David Payne’s Flight Stakes winning filly Montefilia is narrow favourite to hand Love Tap his first defeat when the two gun three-year-olds do battle in the 2020 Spring Champion Stakes on Saturday.
This weekend’s Group 1 $1 million Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) field is set to run at capacity and includes the sole emergency Favreau (12) coming in for Global Quest (9) who has been scratched in favour of a Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes run earlier in the day.
Spring Champion Stakes betting markets for the Randwick classic at Ladbrokes.com.au are dominated by two hopefuls – one proven at the top level and one on the way up.
It is the former, nicely-bred Kermadec filly Montefilia, on the quick back-up who is the well-supported favourite at $3.30 after drawing the inside alley.
She was impressive knocking off the odds-on fancy Hungry Heart in the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) at the track last weekend and gets a chance at successive elite level wins taking on the boys over further in the Spring Champion.
History is hers for the making this weekend with the Flight Stakes – Spring Champion Stakes double yet to be completed by any filly.
In the past five decades just two fillies have won the Spring Champion with Yankee Rose (2016) and Maid Of Heaven (2018), but the money suggests the punters favour a third to add her name to the list in 2020.
“You have always got a task, that’s just the way it is in racing. Racing is tough,” champion South African horseman Payne told Racenet this week.
“We are going well that’s the main thing.
“I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think she would be competitive again and what will be, will be.
“When you think she only won a Group 1 at only her sixth start, that’s quite an achievement for her in itself.
“2000m is more to her liking than 1600m so she should be comfortable at the trip.”
The danger is the untapped Love Tap, Richard & Michael Freedman’s unbeaten Tapit gelding having won his four opening runs with improvement still to come.
He has eased out in the Spring Champion Stakes odds to $3.70 after a wide barrier 14 draw for his hoop Nash Rawiller to overcome, but also has support on the back of a nearly two length win in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill last time out.
Despite the capacity field, the only other hopeful under $10 in the latest markets for the set weights feature is the Patrick Payne-trained Cherry Tortoni ($6).
Drawn a treat in gate four with Ryan Maloney coming aboard in place of the horse’s regular rider Billy Egan, Night Of Thunder gelding Cherry Tortoni chases his first win of the spring.
He was an undefeated wonder as a juvenile before his first-up third at Flemington behind subsequent Caulfield Guineas Prelude winner Crosshaven in the Listed Exford Plate.
Cherry Tortoni was close again at The Valley last start when runner-up to Glenfiddich in the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m), the winner of which was a top chance in the Group 1 Guineas on Saturday before having to be scratched due to throat issues.
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