By Tony Megahey
Outback Cups specialist Todd Payne isn’t fazed by the opposition or the odds, as he has higher priorities with his form mare Victory Lass into Tuesday’s booming nine-race TAB Tamworth Jockey Club meeting.
The knockabout Inverell-based Payne is a familiar face at the marvellous picnic meets anywhere between Bourke, Louth, Deepwater, Talmoi, Goondiwindi and even lesser known postcodes, where he has won the annual town cups.
Victory Lass, a bargain bush buy with eight wins from 18 starts since purchased by Payne, is coming off Inverell, Talmoi and Mallawa wins into Tuesday’s TAB, BM 55 Allsopp Signs 1200 dash. Her 61.5kg impost is reduced by apprentice Carla Dougherty’s 3.5kg claim.
“Mate, we understand we’re up in grade, but we won’t die wondering; we’ve got a tough mare in form, we’ve drawn well, she’s a leader and Carla is as capable as any claimer up here,” enthused Payne. “But our main focus is getting enough points with her to make that 50 grand NSW Picnics Championship next month on Dubbo Gold Cup day.
“We’re an outside hope. We were originally going to Cobar Saturday and then Goondiwindi, but she travels like badly, tries to kick the walls out of the float ... anyway. But she blew ‘em away at Inverell- mares generally hold their form, so why not have a crack in better grade? "
Todd with family backing and his stable team of jockey Gemma Steele and strapper Sharnie Cullen, battle away with a race team of nine and while their majority of success is at the picnics, they’ve had their share of TAB track winners.
While Victory Lass’ 10 race wins are the best performed in the race, the majority have been at the picnics. Paul Perry’s lightly-raced and impressive last start last Quirindi winner Ledecky, again ridden by Rachael Murray, will likely start favourite.
Rachael, who set the record of the first female jockey to ride 100 winners in a NSW season on Perry’s Petrossian at Tamworth in June, again has a near full book of seven rides. Her and the multiple Group winning trainer is the combination to follow.
Along with neighbouring Newcastle Group winning trainer Kris Lees, they again provide dominant numbers and numerous favourites on the day.