How to find a Victoria Derby contender David Payne style? The champion South African trainer, who won a derby in the homeland via Royal Land, is now stabled at Rosehill.
Having emigrated a decade ago this horseman is well versed in Aussie racing and he has Honorius in Saturday’s classic at Flemington which opens the four day Melbourne Cup carnival.
“I bought him off the farm, from Kia Ora Stud,” Payne said.
“A lovely looking yearling, very neat, well made, good conformation, I liked him a lot and asked how he was bred.”
The one time scally wag jockey was given the spiel by the Kia Ora team. The son of Holy Roman Emperor, a son of one time super sire Danehill, was out of the Intikhab mare Zarinia, and Payne just had to pay up.
“He is a half brother to the South African mare Igugu,” Payne explained. “I thought they’d want a lot for this horse.”
Igugu is the winner of 10 from 12 in Payne’s homeland. She is one of only five horses to win the prized the Met and Durban July.
“I asked how much and they said ‘$75,000’,” said Payne who emigrated to Australia 10 years ago.
“I said, ‘done, I’ll have him’.”
Kia Ora retained 75 per cent of the colt while Payne loyalist, Mick Cassar, Wayne Aldridge and Bill Wilkins took up the remainder.
Honorius has started 11 times and the record stands at two wins, and as many second and thirds for $217,350 in prizemoney.
“He is well, all good,” said Payne who won the home land derby via a horse a called; “Royal Land, some time ago”.
“Honorius has had the perfect derby preparation and he needs a bit of luck to go his way.
“He hasn’t had much of at his last couple of runs.”
Last time out Honorius was promoted to second, via protest, behind derby rival Hvasstan in the Norman Robinson Stakes at Caulfield last Saturday week when ridden by Melbourne Cup winner Corey Brown.
“He could have won if he [Brown] had been able to get at him,” Payne said.
Honorius lines up against 15 rivals in Saturday’s $1.5 million race and they include the New Zealander He’s A Dundeel, a winner of the group 1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick.
The group 1 also includes the Mark Kavanagh-trained Super Cool which fended off race favourite He’s A Dundeel when winning the Vase at Moonee Valley last Saturday.
So 15 horses line up against Honorius in the first of the seasonal down-under derbies.
“He got a good draw in two which I’m happy about,” said Payne who had the honour of drawing the gate.
“He was the first horse pulled out at the barrier draw and I thought ‘oh my goodness’ there was 16 hats with a barrier under them.
“I thought we are going to get 16, two was a good result, it was a relief.
Payne is hoping Honorius can go one better than stablemate Praecido which finished second in the Victoria Derby two years ago.
“This is a much better horse than Praicedo and it is a very competitive field but I still believe the one to beat is It’s A Dundeel. He has the track record.”
That may be the case but Payne add; “my horse has had a lovely preparation, the perfect preparation for a derby”.
By Craig Young