By Brad Greenshields
As the owner of the Stuarts Point Tavern, trainer Graham Payne said it will be a big night by the bar if his stable star Baileys can win the Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Payne stopped short of doing a John Singleton and declaring free drinks for all if Baileys wins on Saturday but admitted “there’ll be a big drink”.
“My wife does the cooking so maybe she’ll have to add a ‘Baileys Burger’ to the menu,” Graham Payne [pictured left] said.
No doubt plenty of the Irish Cream will be flowing at the Tavern if the four-year-old can salute in the big race.
Baileys qualified for the $500,000 Final with a withering burst in the Coffs Harbour qualifier that saw the Fastnet Rock gelding come from last on the home turn to edge out odds-on favourite and fellow qualifier Tara Jasmine.
That performance where “he ran some time” has given Payne confidence heading to Randwick: “He ran 34.37 on a Soft 6, that’s flying,” Payne explained.
“We had a couple of concerns in the race, he got chopped out by the favourite but because you’ve got a very intelligent, senior rider on, he didn’t panic and he followed the favourite and I’ll say this, he gave it a cold as he went past it.”
According to Payne, the runner-up finish at Eagle Farm on March 6 only a quarter of a length behind She Za Boss was the perfect tune-up ahead of the Country Championships Final.
“We were over the moon. He’s only a Class 3 horse and he’s racing against horses that have won eight and ten races,” he said. “The jockey asked me ‘what price would the winner be if it was in the Final at Sydney?’ I said it would probably be a bit short and he said we should’ve beaten it.”
The publican/trainer said his horse is as good a chance as any of claiming the $270,000 first prize: “I think it’s a pretty even Country Championships Final this year,” Payne said.
“I think Rod Northam’s horse is the horse to beat, Spirinac. They’re all going on about Art Cadeau but I think Spirinac’s the danger and the horse from Wagga (Another One), he won well.
“There could be a bit of a problem though as a lot of horses in the race are backmarkers so if there’s no pace in the race, some blokes might have to change their riding tactics around.”