Lonhspresso provided the highlight individual performance on a huge day for her trainer Darren Weir with a fast-finishing victory in the $120,000 Listed The Straight Six (1200m) at Flemington.
The win was the third leg of a nation-wide quintet for Weir, who also trained a winner in Adelaide as well as a treble at Donald, to take his season tally to a career-best 201 victories Australia-wide.
Managing owner Darren Dance, who has raced horses with Weir since the formative years of the Ballarat-based horseman’s career in the mid 1990’s, said the four-year-old would now head to Queensland for the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m) on June 7 and the Group 1 Tatt’s Tiara (1400m) two weeks later.
“It’s a credit to Darren Weir, she needed to win today if she was to have a shot in Queensland and thankfully she got the job done,” Dance said.
“I thought it was a really smart ride by Michelle Payne, she’s a gem of a rider down the straight here at Flemington
“It’s typical of the way Darren Weir trains, the horses just get better as they get deeper into the preparation.
“He’s a genius at setting a horse for a particular race and those two races in Queensland are the ones she’s been set for.”
Settling at the tail of the field, Lonhspresso ($5.50) was still last as the bunched field raced onto the course proper.
Coming the widest on the track, the daughter of Lonhro surged over the final 200m to defeat Le Bonsir ($6) by a long-head on the line, with Essay Raider ($7) a further half-a-length back in third.
It provided the first leg of a winning double for Payne, who later made it back-to-back Flemington victories aboard the Andrew Noblet-trained By The Grace in the $80,000 K.A. Morrison Handicap (1600m).
“She (Lonhspresso) surprised me a bit today,” Payne said. “I’ve seen her race a lot and ridden her a couple of times in track work and I had a plan today to leave her alone early and save her for one last crack at them.
“I was a little bit concerned after we’d gone 200m because she was half off the bit but I just had to maintain my plan and let her get comfortable and when it was time to go she really quickened and was strong through the line. It was a really good win.
“I was so excited when I was called up for the ride today. It’s great to get the win on her for Darren Dance and of course Darren Weir who has obviously been a really big supporter of mine.”
Story by Ben Asgari