By Brad Gray
At Rosehill Gardens
David Payne has another Derby prospect on his hands with late season two-year-old Toulouse, who will be out to follow in the footsteps of stablemate Ace High.
Resuming a gelding, the son of Lope De Vega strode into the mounting yard looking like he’d done plenty of work and the markets reacted accordingly which saw him pay $4.40 in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Toulouse making a winning return at Rosehill
After Toulouse picked up his rivals in the straight, which included the previously unbeaten Ronstar, Payne was quick to point out that Toulouse had run in stronger races than this previously, and over unsuitable sprint trips.
“People forget - they’ve got short memories in racing. He was running against the best and wasn’t himself. When we put him away we gelded him and he has come back a different horse,” he said.
“He wasn’t coltish but had a lot of blood issues. We couldn’t get him right.
"He is a much-improved horse and he’ll even improve another couple of lengths on this run. He is a big raw bugger and the further he goes the better.”
Payne trained the quinella in the race with Silent Explorer which is also by Lope De Vega, a stallion Payne has had plenty of success with in the past. Other names the South African-born trainer was quick to reel off included Group Two-winner French Fern and honest campaigner Be Like Dad.
Jason Collett, who also rode Toulouse back in February when he finished 4.7L off Santos in the Pierro Plate, believes the penny is only starting to drop.
“He is sharper now but 1400m helped,” Collett said.
“I just had to get him to come under me which he started to do from the 800m and at the 400m I was pretty confident. Kerrin McEvoy (on Pedicel) outside of me was under pressure and he just needed clear air.
“He is a lovely horse. He has come back nicely and in more time he’ll be even better.”
Meanwhile, Ace High's owner John Cordina revealed the rising four-year-old will likely resume in the Winx Stakes (1400m) but the Memsie Stakes was also an option.
"He has put on just under 50kg. He has rounded up and looks fantastic," Cordina beamed.
Ace High, having gone within a whisker of joining Dulficy and Mahogany as winners of the Victoria and ATC Derby double, has been invited to run in the Japan Cup but will likely stay in Australia to target the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup.