Michelle Payne has trained and ridden the winner of a maiden race in country Victoria in the colours she hopes to wear aboard Kaspersky in the $3 million Cox Plate.
The 2015 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey won a 1600m-maiden at Stawell on Monday aboard lightly raced three-year-old Jukila.
The gelding races in the colours of owners Ernest and Ronda Clarke, the same owners who bought Kaspersky earlier this year.
Kaspersky, trained by ex-pat Australian Jane Chapple-Hyam, travelled to Australia last month and appears likely to be an acceptor for Saturday’s Cox Plate.
The Moonee Valley Racing Club committee has the power to use its discretion to select the final field which is expected to be smaller than usual with champion Winx the odds-on favourite to win her third Cox Plate.
Payne is hopeful Jukila might be a Derby prospect later this season and was thrilled to get the win on Monday.
“It’s just great for Ern and Ronda Clarke,” Payne told broadcaster Racing.com.
“This was their first ever horse they bought into racing, and then Kaspersky who hopefully will gain a start in the Cox Plate on Saturday.
“It’s their first winner so it’s a great thrill.”
Payne rode Kaspersky to his fifth in the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
The horse failed to fire in his Australian debut in the Toorak Handicap this month, finishing 16th of the 18 runners.
Illness forced Payne to miss the ride in the Toorak Handicap.
Payne is yet to ride in a Cox Plate while her brother Patrick won the race in 2002 on Northerly.
Payne rode three horses she trains in races on Monday but has scarcely ridden in races this season.
Jukila was her first winner for the 2017/18 season as a jockey.
“I always laugh and joke that he’s my Derby and Melbourne Cup horse,” Payne said.
“This year it’s probably just a bit soon for him (for the Victoria Derby) but in six months you never know.
“He’s a very nice stayer. We aim high and we can always drop back a bit.”
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