Trainer David Payne is convinced he has a potential Oaks contender in lightly-raced filly Montefilia.
The Rosehill trainer has nominated Montefilia to race on the opening day of the new racing season at Randwick on Saturday, with the hope of boosting her rating before a short freshen-up to target the VRC Oaks at Flemington in November.
Even with Sydney’s wet weather, Payne says he is likely to accept for Montefilia in Saturday’s fillies and mares benchmark-78 race on Wednesday but will make a final call on whether she runs after monitoring the weather and state of the track.
The course was rated a heavy 10 on Tuesday.
Montefilia won a Newcastle maiden on debut in March over 1400m before finishing fourth in the Group Three Baillieu Handicap at Rosehill.
The filly then ran on against the pattern of the day in her return from a spell on July 18, finishing third in a 1400m handicap for two-year-olds on a day when the Kensington track at Randwick came under scrutiny for the way it raced.
“If you look at the way the track was playing, I think she was one of the best runs of the day,” Payne said.
“She can only improve on that run.
“She’s very smart. I’ve got quite a high opinion of her. Her long-term aim is the Oaks.”
Payne said Montefilia had stoutness from her dam side and was fit enough for 1800m second-up.
“I just want to get her qualified and then I’ll give her a couple of weeks in the paddock and then program for that race, all going well,” he said.
Payne also has Bazooka, who finished second in the same Kensington race as Montefilia last start, nominated in a benchmark-72 handicap for three and four-year-olds at Randwick on Saturday.
Bazooka is also nominated for a 1400m race at Kembla Grange.
“I think I might accept in both and have a look,” Payne said.
“I’m going to put a set of blinkers on him. I think that will improve him, keep him more focused.
“If he shapes up in a race like that we’ve got to have a crack at the Golden Rose. But you’ve got to be very competitive in a race like that to even think of it. He’ll show us on Saturday if he’s up to it.”