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Image: Steve Hart
The weather will determine David Payne's hand in Hawkesbury's feature meeting of the year.

David Payne is one of many trainers keeping a close eye on the weather ahead of the stand-alone meeting at Hawkesbury and he is keen for the rain to stay away.

Payne has promising filly Trafalgar Square readied for the Clarendon Stakes (1400m) along with State Of America for the Midway Handicap (1500m), while Agita can stake his Queensland Derby claims in the Blakes Marine Handicap (1800m).

While track conditions aren’t a concern for State Of America, the trainer’s other pair has shown a dislike for wet ground and Payne is unlikely to run them if the track is heavy.

“I’m just hoping it’s not too wet,” Payne said.

“They’re predicting a lot of rain and Trafalgar Square didn’t handle it at Randwick in the Group Three (Kindergarten Stakes). She looked like she was going to be competitive and then died on her run, I don’t think she enjoyed the going.

“I don’t think Agita will enjoy a wet track either, so it all depends on the weather.”

Hawkesbury remained in the good range on Thursday and weather forecasts were wide-ranging, the Bureau Of Meteorology predicting between two and 10 mm of rain to fall on Friday and anywhere from three to 25 mm on Saturday.

If conditions do hold Payne is confident Trafalgar Square, an impressive last start winner at Canterbury, can give him a second Clarendon Stakes following the success of Gleneagles in 2021.

The filly has raced four times for a win and a placing, but Payne says we haven’t seen the best of her due to a couple of setbacks, including a virus she suffered after her debut sixth in the Golden Gift last year.

“She got a virus and I put her out and brought her back, and then she got another one,” he said.

“We ended up wasting a lot of time with her, but she is a smart filly.”

Trafalgar Square will be spelled after Saturday with a view to the Princess Series races in the spring.

If she can capture the Clarendon Stakes, she will join a handy roll call of winners that includes Group 1 performers Zoustar (2013) and Zardozi (2023).

 
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