David Payne would love a stable full of horses like Saturday’s Group Three Concorde Stakes favourite Winter King.
The five-year-old has managed a top-two finish in half of his 26 starts and been third on another five occasions.
He has been the bridesmaid in both runs over 1200 metres this campaign, finishing a short half-head second to Rain Affair in the Missile Stakes and a long head behind Show County Quality winner Skytrain last start.
“It’s just been a bob of the head,” Payne said of Winter King’s past two defeats.
“He is a very honest horse.”
Significantly, Winter King returns to his pet distance of 1100 metres at Warwick Farm on Saturday, a journey he has won over four times.
While it has been just over a year since his last victory he has run some cheeky races in between, beating all but champion Black Caviar in the Schillaci Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield last October and running fourth to another star in Hay List when they met in the Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Warwick Farm in March.
Winter King finished second to Reward For Effort in the Concorde 12 months ago when it was run at Rosehill but Payne said he had toughened up since then.
“I think he’s more mature now and he’s getting a bit further (distance) in his races,” Payne said.
“He has drawn well (one) and it’s a small field which will suit him.”
Stablemate Master Of Design won’t be taking his place in the field due to the meeting being switched from Randwick.
Payne has also scratched Dream Choice from the Listed Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) and Sea Lord who was second emergency for the Group Three Tramway Hcp (1400m).
“I’ve taken three out,” Payne said.
“Warwick Farm doesn’t suit those horses so they will run next week at Rosehill.”
Winter King was the $3.40 favourite for the Concorde with TAB Sportsbet on Thursday, ahead of topweight Decision Time at $4.60 and Obsequious at $5.50.