Old friends reunite through Fasano

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January 17, 2020 - 12:30 PM

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John Camilleri is best known in racing circles as the breeder of champion Winx but to David Payne, Camilleri will always be the man who kick-started his Australian career.

A champion jockey and trainer in his native South Africa, Payne had to start from scratch when he moved his family to Australia in 2002.

Camilleri was one of the first people to show faith in the accomplished horseman, entrusting Payne with Unearthly, who helped to put the former South African on the local map when she won the 2003 Group One Flight Stakes and 2004 Chelmsford Stakes.

Later the pair had success with Group Three winner Florentina who was twice placed behind the outstanding Streama during the 2011 Princess series.

Not only did owner/breeder Camilleri race horses with Payne in the early years, he also helped encourage new owners, including his cousin John Cordina.

Cordina and Payne have gone on to enjoy tremendous success with horses such as Gallant Tess, Centennial Park and Ace High.

While Payne has not had a horse for Camilleri since Florentina, the mare has reunited the pair through her promising son, Fasano, who resumes for Payne in the Jack Ashman Handicap (1300m) at Rosehill on Saturday.

"It was nice of him to give me this horse, because of the mother, Florentina, I think," Payne said.

"He got me going so I will always appreciate that."

Fasano showed early ability, notching a stakes placing behind subsequent Group One winner Shadow Hero as a two-year-old.

He resumed in the spring to break his maiden at Hawkesbury and was again competitive in black-type grade, finishing fifth to Just Thinkin' in the Dulcify Quality

But it soon became apparent Fasano's mind was not on racing so the horse was spelled and gelded.

"In one race he tried to savage another horse so we decided his mind wasn't on it," Payne said.

While Payne believes Fasano will be at his best over a mile and further, he wants to see him compete hard at Rosehill to confirm he is worthy of loftier aims.

"If he performs, I'd like to try to win a black-type race somewhere," Payne said.

"Saturday will tell us, he's got to step up."

Payne saddles up two-year-old Desert Flame in the opening race and says the filly has continued to improve since her placing behind Untamed at Canterbury.

Costello resumes for the stable in the Rosehill Bowling Club Handicap (1500m) after showing staying promise last campaign.

"He's come back well. I think it will be a bit short for him but drawn one, he could run into the money," Payne said.