A week ago David Payne was resigned to being a Golden Slipper onlooker.
After Saturday, the Rosehill trainer could be saddling up two runners in the $3.5 million race.
French Fern was an upset winner of last Saturday’s Reisling Stakes and, after some initial reluctance, Payne and his fellow owners agreed that having qualified, she would take her place in the Slipper.
Payne will saddle up outsiders Ocean City and Chimboraa in Saturday’s Pago Pago Stakes at Rosehill, one of two races on the day guaranteeing the winner an automatic Slipper berth.
“I think they are both future stayers and would be more suited by the Sires’ and the Champagne Stakes,” Payne said.
“I have put them in there to get experience.
“But of course if one was to win, and win well, the temptation is there to go to the Slipper.”
Payne said French Fern had done well since her Reisling win.
“She is a tough filly,” he said. “And she keeps getting better and stronger.”
But Payne is under no illusions about how tough the Slipper will be with the favourites, Extreme Choice and Flying Artie, taking up residence at his stable in the lead-up to the race.
“They arrived from Melbourne this morning,” he said.
“I was surprised that Extreme Choice is only a little thing but he obviously gets the job done.
“Flying Artie is a lovely, big, strong horse.
“They both travelled well and looked really good.”
The Mick Price-trained pair ran one-two in the Blue Diamond Stakes with Extreme Choice maintaining his unbeaten record.
Extreme Choice is at $2.80 to win the Slipper with Flying Artie at $6 and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Kiss And Make Up at $8 and the only other runner under double figures.