David Payne backing Montefilia to stay the distance

The normally conservative David Payne is bullish about Montefilia’s chances in the Metropolitan, batting away any doubts about her stamina and insisting she will prove she is a genuine stayer.

The four-year-old has raced over the classic distance three times, her best result a third in the VRC Oaks last spring when she was a beaten favourite.

She finished fourth and fifth respectively in the Derby and Australian Oaks in the autumn but Payne says that was tempo-related and not a reflection of her staying prowess.

“She stays, no problem,” Payne said.

“If you look at the Derby and the Oaks, both of those races were a crawl. She is a much stronger filly now too.

“We’ve been aiming her for the Cups if all goes to plan. We’ll see what happens on Saturday.”

Montefilia will be bidding to break a Metropolitan drought for the mares with Coco Cobanna 21 years ago the last of her gender to win the race.

She will have to do it from barrier 17 but Payne is not overly concerned by the wide draw given she is a backmarker.

A former champion jockey and trainer in South Africa, Payne is one of the most experienced horsemen in the country and it is no fluke many of his best Australian gallopers have been Classic-style horses.

He has won feature races with the likes of Ace High and Criterion and is the first to admit he enjoys the challenge of training distance horses.

“I love training stayers,” Payne said.

“Sprint races are a dime a dozen. There’s a bit of an art to the staying races.

“The Classic races, that’s what racing is about really.”

Shared Ambition is an early scratching from the Metropolitan (2400m) and will instead tackle the Hill Stakes (2000m) earlier on Saturday’s program, paving the way for first emergency Luncies to gain a Group 1 start.

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