Montefilia earns Spring Champion honours

Montefilia has landed her second Group One win in eight days and given jockey Jason Collett his first major in Sydney with a classy performance in the Spring Champion Stakes.

Backing up from her Flight Stakes win at Randwick last Saturday, the David Payne-trained filly upstaged the colts and geldings to stamp herself as Sydney’s superior middle-distance three-year-old.

Collett broke his Group One duck aboard Invincibella in last year’s Tatt’s Tiara in Brisbane but the Spring Champion was his first major in his adopted hometown.

“She’s a star. Credit to David Payne and his team to get her here in top shape,” Collett said.

“I galloped her Thursday morning and I left there pretty excited.

“Everything panned out perfectly. I got the barrier to suit, it was just a matter of getting her into the clear at the right time.”

Collett was also thrilled to ride a big race winner for Payne, who has been one of his staunchest supporters since he relocated to Sydney from New Zealand.

“When I first came to Sydney, Chris Waller and David gave me a lot of opportunities,” Collett said.

“I stuffed a few of them up, so I’m very glad to get this win for David and his team.”

A champion jockey and trainer in South Africa, Payne trains a small team of 16 at Rosehill but always seems to have a top-class horse.

Montefilia is his latest and he will see how she pulls up before deciding whether to chase another Group One win in the VRC Oaks at Flemington next month.

“I will have a look at the race in Melbourne. You have to look at it,” Payne said.

“She has only had seven runs now but we’ll see how she is in a couple of days as we will be taking on the fillies again.

“I feel she will be better over 2500 metres.”

Montefilia became the third filly to win the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) after Yankee Rose (2016) and Maid Of Heaven (2018) and the first to claim the Flight Stakes-Spring Champion double.

Starting a $2.70 favourite, she wore down Lion’s Roar ($18) to score by three-quarters of a length, with that pair clearing out from Bucharest ($21) who was almost four lengths further back.

Victorian Cherry Tortoni finished seventh in an effort jockey Ryan Maloney described as “disappointing” while Nash Rawiller said the previously unbeaten Love Tap had come to the end of his campaign.

The race was marred by a spectacular fall near the 1600m when Rachel King and Choir went through the running rail but horse and jockey appeared unscathed.