One of the country’s most accomplished female jockeys is set to link with Gai Waterhouse for the first time.
Michelle Payne has been booked to ride Waterhouse’s resuming stayer Hippopus in Saturday’s Comedy King Handicap at Flemington.
“I was really excited to get the call up and I’m looking forward to riding it well and hopefully getting some more mounts off her,” Payne said.
“Obviously everybody admires her as a trainer and what she has done as a female trainer … and it’s just going to be great to have the opportunity to ride for her.”
Payne, who rode work for the Waterhouse stable for the first time on Thursday, said the ride on Hippopus came out of the blue.
“I was going to ride a horse for her on Melbourne Cup day in a two-year-old race last year,” she said.
“That was going to be my first ride for her, but I got suspended in the Moonee Valley Cup on Cox Plate day so I missed out on that day,” Payne said.
Hippopus resumes over a mile having not won since his VRC St Leger success in April 2013, the only time the stayer has raced at Flemington.
Hippopus is at $18 in betting while Payne’s best chance for a winner from her two Flemington rides looks to be Scarlett Billows for Melbourne’s premier trainer Darren Weir in the Tauto Handicap (1200m).
Scarlett Billows, a first-up winner at a Mornington metropolitan meeting in December, holds the second line of betting and Payne says the mare has returned in great order this campaign.
“It looks a really nice race for her,” Payne said.