Trainer Patrick Payne says he feels like a fake after Zed Em gave him his first Brierly Steeplechase victory at Warrnambool.
Zed Em gave a dashing display to win Tuesday’s main race on the opening day of Warrnambool’s three-day meeting.
An easing $3.30 favourite, Zed Em, under Steve Pateman, looked likely to be run down by $7 chance Now And Zen after jumping the last obstacle before fighting back to win by a length.
Outsider King Of The Forest ($91) gave a a hint to his chances in Thursday’s Grand Annual Steeplechase finishing third, two lengths further away.
While Zed Em has won four steeplechases in Australia for Payne, the past three in succession, the trainer was quick to thank New Zealand trainer Kevin Myers for his groundwork.
Myers trained Zed Em to three jumps victories last year before sending the gelding to Payne for a tilt at the richer steeplechase races.
Zed Em finished third to I’ll’ava’alf in the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown before running fourth in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat last August.
He returned to New Zealand to spell after which Myers prepared him for a shot at the early jumps races in Australia.
After winning by 15 lengths over Tuesday’s course and distance in March, Zed Em went on to win the Von Doussa Steeplechase at Oakbank last month.
“I feel like a bit of a fake saddling him up,” Payne said.
“Kevin Myers did all the work back in New Zealand.
“I thought Now And Zen had him halfway up the straight but the foundation they did in New Zealand really held him in good stead in the last 100 metres.”
Payne, who has won three Grand Annual Steeplechases, said Zed Em was too brilliant to run in Thursday’s 5500m-race but said the gelding could feature next year.
Pateman said Zed Em deserved his victory.
“He jumped great throughout except for the second last which I mucked up,” Pateman said.
“Patrick Payne is a master and the combination of Patrick and Kevin Myers is very hard to beat and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Pateman was fined $400 for using the whip 11 times before the 100m mark and a further $300 for using it in consecutive strides while John Allen, who rode the runner-up, was also fined $400 for overuse of the whip before the 100m mark.
A winning quartet on the day for Darren Weir has given the leading trainer his 51st overall Warrnambool carnival winner.