Montefilia, Cherry Tortoni in Melbourne v Sydney battle

The debates every season regarding the younger horses are always are the Melbourne two and three-year-old’s as good as Sydney’s crop.

Well, punters will find out on Saturday in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) because Patrick Payne is bypassing the Caulfield Guineas with Cherry Tortoni and bringing him up to Randwick.

Trainer David Payne thinks Cherry Tortoni, who has run placings in two Stakes races this time in, will find it hard to beat his filly Montefilia and Love Tap in Saturday’s Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.

“I think our horses have been a bit better than their three-year-old’s,” he said. “Love Tap is a very good horse. He’s definitely the one to beat. I was very impressed with him last start.”

The Richard and Michael Freedman-trained Love Tap is unbeaten in four starts and showed he was the real deal by winning the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes last start.

But Payne’s Montefilia took out the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) last weekend when defeating the favourite Hungry Heart in a thrilling finish.

“It’s nice when you think a horse is all right and it works out because often it doesn’t,” Payne said.

“I knew she was going to be finishing it off but I must say when Hungry Heart was a good length in front of her I thought she’d be tough to run down because she was full of running.”

Payne said his filly will back up this weekend because she’s done so well since Saturday’s effort. She’s currently a $3.60 second favourite behind Love Tap ($3) with Cherry Tortoni ($5) on the third line of betting.

“She’s tough. She went home and ate all her food so she’s perfect,” Payne said. “She’ll be a much better filly over 2000m. That’s what she’s bred to do.”

With Hugh Bowman committing to a Melbourne spring, Payne has had to find a new jockey and he’s secured the services of Jason Collett.

“He’s a quiet jockey and that’s what she wants,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brad Widdup will decide on Wednesday where Icebath and Akari race on Saturday. Both are nominated for the Silver Eagle, Angst Stakes and a Benchmark 88 event on Saturday.

“I’m still deciding,” Widdup said.

“They’re in everything and they’re not out of their depth in any of those races.

“Icebath’s rating should read a lot higher and I’m really happy with Akari this time in. They both worked well on Tuesday morning.”

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