Michelle Payne and former jockey Greg Childs with the Cox Plate at The Valley (Image: Racing Photos)
Michelle Payne will use a trip to the UK for the popular Shergar Cup this Saturday as a chance to fine-tune the Cox Plate preparations of talented galloper Kaspersky, who was on Tuesday afternoon announced as one of 141 nominations for October's $3 million weight-for-age championship at The Valley.
Payne, who will join the three-rider Girls team to do battle against the likes of Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Kerrin McEvoy in the Shergar Cup at Ascot on Saturday, will stay on in the UK to ride Kaspersky in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes (1400m) at Newbury on August 19.
The Melbourne Cup-winning jockey said the Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained six-year-old would likely travel to Melbourne with the first shipment of European horses on September 30, leaving the door open for a start in the G1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 14 prior to taking on Winx in the Cox Plate.
"The plan is that I'll go over and ride him in trackwork on the Tuesday after the Shergar Cup and then he's going to race at Newbury the following Saturday," Payne said.
"He was going to go to a race at Deauville over 2000m (G1 Prix Jean Romanet) but he was going to be taking on one of the best horses in France so we decided that the Group 2 at Newbury would be a good option for him and then hopefully he'll be heading out here.
"Obviously everybody wants to win the Melbourne Cup as a jockey but the Cox Plate is so unique and it's been one of my favourite races since I was about eight years old so to have an opportunity to ride in it will be amazing.
"If he could get out here and race in the Toorak Handicap it would be lovely for him to have that run before the Cox Plate but obviously they have to travel out here well so we'll just see how he goes."
With Payne in the saddle, Kaspersky defied his 66-1 quote to run a gallant fifth behind Ribchester in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot in June before defeating all but Mutakayyef in the G2 Summer Mile (1600m) last month.
While most of his form is over shorter trips, Payne is confident that Kaspersky - who will remain in the care of Chapple-Hyam throughout his spring campaign before moving to Payne's Nottingham Farm stable - boasts the quality to run out a strong 2000m in a high-pressure Cox Plate.
"He's only ever run over a mile but they are different tracks over there, very undulating and a lot harder than our tracks so I think if you rode him to run out the 2000m he would run it out strongly," she said.
"He's a class horse as you saw when he ran at Royal Ascot so all being well he'll be out here and competing in the Cox Plate."
Payne also revealed that, in conjunction with Victorian syndicator First Light Racing, she is hoping to source a European stayer that can be aimed at the Melbourne Cup.
"We are actually really looking for a horse to bring out for the Melbourne Cup with First Light Racing so while I'm over there (UK) I'm going to try to go out and look at some horses and maybe even sit on a few and gallop them," she said.