PATRICK Payne’s reputation as one of the best jumps trainers in Australia was only enhanced at Oakbank on Saturday when Zed Em led throughout in the $100,000 Von Doussa Steeeplchase.
It was the former champion jockey’s fifth Oakbank steeple major and Payne said he had identified the early season 3250m 16-jump feature as the perfect race for the former Kiwi.
Zed Em gave his supporters who took the $2.40 some anxious moments in the concluding stages before defying 2013 winner Lord Of The Song to score by three quarters of a length.
“He was great,’’ Payne said. “He set a pretty solid tempo up front but was good enough to fight them off.”
Despite the win Zed Em is likely to bypass Monday’s $160,000 Great Eastern Steeplechase with Payne eyeing next month’s Warrnambool Carnival.
“I’m pretty certain we wont back him up,’’ Payne said. “We’ll make a decision tomorrow but I think we’ll now look at Warrnambool with him.
“Dummy Meyers (his former trainer in New Zealand) identified the early steeple races with him so I think the Brierly (Steeple) will be his next outing.
It was also a rewarding result for rider Richard Cully who had found trouble in his previous two rides over the fences before leading throughout aboard Zed Em.
“I wasn’t sure he was going to win,’’ Cully said.
“I heard the crowd and looked across and saw the other horse (Lord Of The Song) closing.’’
The race wasn’t without incident with Kiwi raider Racquetor falling down the back straight.
Payne’s passion and love for his horses was quickly to the fore, forgoing any post-race celebrations to check on stablemate No Song No Supper, who looked in trouble before flashing home to finish fifth beaten 9.4 lengths.
“I’m not to what sure happened to him up the back, he might have run into some trouble when the other horse fell,’’ Payne said.
“It was some sort of effort to get as close as he did, who knows what might have happened if he didn’t lose that ground.
“He appears fine. I just wanted to check on him as he can get a little bit of heat stress. He will be better suited for Monday,’’ Payne said.
Local chaser and last year’s Von Doussa winner Nishiazabu stuck on gamely to run third with trainer Kevin Frew confident his horse will be even better come Monday’s 24-fence Great Eastern Steeplechase, a race that has eluded the stable after finishing runner-up last year.
“That will have him in great shape for Monday,’’ Frew said.
“He’s come through the run really well and he was always going to be up against today.”
UBET opened Zed Em a $2.60 favourite for the Great Eastern ahead of Lord Of The Song at $3 with Nishiazabu on the third of betting at $5.
Originally published as Payne’s five-star salute at Oakbank
SOURCE: newsnow sport