MICHELLE Payne’s decision to cut short a holiday to Bali paid dividends when she guided the Ciaron Maher-trained Markmanship to an impressive victory in a $80,000 open handicap over 2000 metres at Caulfield on Saturday.
Payne, who ended her holiday one day early, landed in Melbourne at 5.20am on Saturday before taking the ride on the six-year-old stallion.
“I’ve done a lot of work on Markmanship since he joined Ciaron’s stables a few weeks ago,” she said.
“He gave me the feel of a very nice horse in his track work and I missed the ride on him last start when Michael Rodd rode him.
“I thought Michael would keep the ride on him but when Ciaron said I could have the ride I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity so I came home.”
The talented jockey said Markmanship was suited by the strong tempo in the race.
“I was just hoping that the tempo would be good so he could travel nicely because he can get his head up and start over-racing but the speed was perfect,” she said
“He got through this ground beautifully today and that can make them look a bit more impressive than what they are, but to me he felt like a really high-class stayer.”
Maher, who paid $120,000 for the former Lloyd Williams’ galloper at the Inglis Select Thoroughbred Sale on May 23, said the stallion had developed into a bargain buy for his connections.
“He’s got back $60,000 of his purchase price now. The race suited him today,” he said.
“He was down in weight and up in distance to the 2000 metres which really suited him. He’s had the two runs for us now for two wins.
“He was very fit when we got him from Lloyd Williams.
“There’s still a lot of improvement in him. He had a soft win at Cranbourne at his first run for us.
“I’ve got it in the back of my mind a race like next year’s Warrnambool Cup would be a great race for him.”
The former imported stallion had a history of tendon problems but they didn’t concern Maher when he purchased the son of Galileo.
“I’ve trained a lot of horses including some top jumpers that have had tendon problems but that does not really concern me,” Maher said.
“Markmanship was the only horse that I wanted to buy at the sale,” he said.
“I thought there was a few wins in him from where he was rated.
“He has gone better than I expected.
“He’s a beautiful type of individual.”
Markmanship was heavily backed from $8 to $5.50 with bookmakers on the strength of his inital win at Cranbourne on June 22.