Michelle Payne in line for Spring mounts on Azkadellia

Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne is in line for the mount on Group 1 winner Azkadellia in the upcoming Spring Carnival.

Michelle Payne, above, is in line for the Spring mount on G1 winning mare Azkadellia. Photo by Sarah Ebbett.

Michelle Payne, above, is in line for the Spring mount on G1 winning mare Azkadellia. Photo by Sarah Ebbett.

Payne could also be called upon to partner Azkadellia in the $2m Breeders’ Cup (1 and ¼ miles) for Fillies and Mares at Santa Anita Park in California in November if trainer Ciaron Maher decides to follow that path.

The history making jockey was given the all clear last week to resume race riding after recovering from injuries she received in a nasty fall at Mildura in May and Azkadellia’s owner Ben Connolly said that a fit Payne would be considered for her Spring rides.

“Michelle potentially will ride her,” Connolly told racing.com.

“If she’s fit, well, in-form around Melbourne Cup time, then we’ll definitely consider her.”

“If Azkadellia does go to America, we would love to have her on.”

“It’s just an opportunity for Michelle, and gives her a gaol to work towards.”

Payne created history when she became the first female jockey to win the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington last November when she rode a brilliant race to get $101 chance Prince Of Penzance over the line in first position.

But Payne’s chances of defending her Melbourne Cup title on the Darren Weir trained Prince Of Penzance nosedived when she was seriously injured in a fall at Mildura in May.

Payne had to undergo surgery to repair a damaged pancreas and her bad fortunes continued when she was told that she would not be aboard Prince Of Penance when he kicks off his Melbourne Cup defence campaign in the Group 1 $500,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 27.

Consistent Group 1 performer Azkadellia broke through for her maiden win at the highest level when she won the Group 1 $1m The Coolmore Legacy Stakes (Queen Of The Turf Stakes) (1600m) at Randwick on April 9 with Damien Oliver in the saddle.

The winner of the Coolmore Legacy Stakes is invited to compete in the Breeders’ Cup as well as receiving a $40,000 travelling allowance and Maher is still considering if he will make the trip to the United States.

“It’s great to be qualified and invited, so we’ll work out what we do with her,” Maher said.

Azkadellia is back in pre-training following her Brisbane Winter Carnival campaign that resulted in two seconds from three starts when runner-up in the both the Group 1 $750,000 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10000 (1350m) at Doomben and in the Group 1 $500,000 Sky Racing Tattersall’s Club Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm.

Connolly said that the Group 1 $500,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 24 is a possible Spring Carnival starting point for Azkadellia.

The Shinko King mare is also nominated for the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 and is marked at $31 in early betting with Ladbrokes.com.au.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.

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