PATRICK Payne is hoping Cellarmaster has matured to perfection for this Sunday’s Sale Quality.
The $80,000 1200 metre race, Gippsland’s richest sprint race, is the feature of this Sunday’s racing at Greenwattle, and Payne’s top-weight looks a quality chance.
“He’s in good shape. He’s fit enough and forward enough for this race,” Payne said.
“He’s a really honest horse. He’s getting old now but he’s been a pretty good horse over the time and journey.
“He’s giving some weight away to some promising horses, but you know, they haven’t done what he’s done yet. He’s run in open class racing for quite a while.”
Cellarmaster hasn’t seen much action in recent times, with his sole start in the last 12 months returning a second placing at Morphettville in September.
The seven-year-old gelding has more than $400,000 prize money to his name, though, after shining as a youngster in New Zealand.
A son of Dubawi, and grandson of champion Dubai Millennium, he was bred to race early and had nine starts over the ditch as a two-year-old.
Three of them were wins, including the Listed Wentwood Grange Stakes at Te Rapa, edging out Kiwi champ Jimmy Choux, and the group three Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie.
Since moving to Australia and landing with Payne to begin 2011, Cellarmaster has shown only flashes of that form, with his stand-out win coming in the 2012 Swan Hill Cup.
Despite coming into this Sunday’s race off a 20-week spell, Payne said Cellarmaster would be in the mix.
“Our horse is in good shape and, given the right run, will go close,” he said.
“We’ve got a really good jockey in Steven Arnold, so we’re pretty happy.”
Cellarmaster will carry 58 kilograms, giving away 4kg to the rest of the 12-strong field.
Payne picked out lightly-raced Ellerton-Zahra chance Tevinder as the one to beat.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Matthew Ellerton’s horse down the bottom,” he said.
“It’s been going good and I thought it was unlucky the other day. It’s going to be hard to beat.
“They’re fresh horses coming through with no weight so they’ll be hard to beat.”
Sunday’s race day will also feature the debut of Sale’s new big-screen television, just the second to be installed at a Victorian country race course.
Sunday’s meeting will also include heat 11 of the Victorian Sprint Series over 1000m and a Showcase event worth $30,000.
The Super VOBIS two-year-old event looks an ideal race for Schopenhauer, which has run some good in harder races for trainer Danny O’Brien and will be ridden by James Winks.
Sunday Escape, trained by Andrew Murray, could atone for his first up third with a win the heat of the Victoria Sprint Series with Nick Hall in the saddle. Stablemate Valuable Star will be ridden by Beau Mertens in the same race.