David Payne has sights set on Clarendon Stakes

The impending sale of multiple Group 1 winner Montefilia is set to leave a significant void in David Payne’s stable and he is putting his faith in the next generation to step up to the plate.

Montefilia will go under the hammer as a broodmare prospect at next month’s Chairman’s Sale and while there is a chance her buyers might continue her racing career for another season, the more likely scenario is retirement.

In that vein, it will be up to some of Payne’s young charges to keep the yard ticking over and two horses who fit that bill, Icebreaker and Gunslinger, will line up in Saturday’s Clarendon Stakes (1400m) at Hawkesbury.

The race historically showcases talented but late-maturing juveniles, none better than 2013 winner Zoustar, while the Payne-trained Gleneagles was successful in 2021 and went on to be Group 2 placed behind Paulele in that year’s Roman Consul Stakes.

“It’s a good race for young horses that take a bit of time,” Payne said.

“They’re not Slipper horses and just need that extra few months. It’s a nice kick-off for them.”

Icebreaker finished second on debut at Hawkesbury on April 5 but the horse who beat him, the James Cummings-trained Zardozi, is again among his rivals.

Payne is hoping a better track and the benefit of race experience can help Icebreaker bridge the gap.

“He will run well but he’s still got to turn the tables on the Godolphin horse,” Payne said.

“They were on a heavy track last time and it was our first run so we should improve.

“The other horse (Gunslinger), it’s still going to be a bit soon for him. We will get a run under his belt and then we can see where we’re going with him. He’s a big horse and he’ll be better in six months.”

Consistent campaigner Fox Fighter resumes for Payne in the Listed Hawkesbury Gold Rush (1100m) and is yet to miss a place in four first-up runs.

The four-year-old has been pleasing his trainer at home and is a knock-out chance.

“He’s well and he will be competitive on Saturday,” Payne said.

“He’s a trier. He puts one hundred per cent in always.

“He likes to be off the pace so a wide draw is not a problem and they”ll go along which should suit him.”

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