If this is Montefilia's farewell tour for trainer David Payne, she's ready to deliver at least one more Group 1 hit in Saturday's Tancred Stakes.
The Caulfield and Melbourne Cup runner Montefilia has attracted interest from Japan as well as major Australian thoroughbred operations, after the owners decided to put her up for sale.
And while there's potentially still plenty of racing left in her, the five-year-old's future could be in breeding, having captured four Group 1 victories in 25 career starts.
Montefilia is a $5 chance with Bet365, only headed by Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip, stretching out to 2400m after being blown away by UK star Dubai Honour, who is now equal favourite with Anamoe for the Queen Elizabeth.
The under-stated Payne believes Montefilia is ideally placed to claim the Tancred at Rosehill.
"She's better over a little bit further," he told ACM Racing.
"She's definitely a big hope, we saw what a great run she had in the Caulfield Cup (2400m).
"I can't complain, she's done very well, we've had some success, all of her Group 1 wins were great, maybe when she beat Verry Elleegant (in the 2022 Ranvet) is the best."
Payne said he'll wait to see how Montefilia pulls up from Saturday's run before pushing on to the Queen Elizabeth and another shot at Dubai Honour, who put four lengths on her last week.
"She still beat the rest of the field pretty well and was really strong to the line," owner Hugh Docherty said.
A top three placing by Virtuous Circle in Saturday's $3 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington should see the colt heading to Sydney for the $2 million Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 1.
Trainer Liam Howley admitted Virtuous Circle faces a big class rise in the Australian Cup but he's hoping for a forward showing from the lightly raced three-year-old in the 2000 metre contest.
"I think if Virtuous Circle runs well in the Australian Cup, we'll be heading straight to Sydney for the AJC Derby," Howley told ACM Racing. "Virtuous Circle has been crying out for races over a bit of ground like the 2000 metres of the Australian Cup and the 2400 metres of the AJC Derby.
"I think the 2000 metres of the Australian Cup will be right up his alley. I thought his effort to run eighth at his last run in the Australian Guineas over 1600 metres a couple of weeks ago was a sensational performance. He had no luck at vital stages in that race and finished it off strongly after good runs in the Stutt Stakes and Vase at Moonee Valley in the spring last year.
"Top jockey James McDonald rode Virtuous Choice in the Stutt and Vase and was impressed but he did say the horse needed a break and would be better in the autumn. We gave him a good break and he's really furnished out to a lovely type of horse."
Bet365 rate Virtuous Circle, a $19 hope of winning the Australian Cup. Howley, 42, who trained horses for high profile owner Lloyd Williams for more then four years after learning his trade with various trainers, including the Freedmans, begins training from the magnificent Macedon Lodge complex which were previously owned by Williams in a fortnight.
"It'll be like going back home once I start training at Macedon Lodge," Howley said. "It's a wonderful spot to train horses at Macedon Lodge. We'll have 50 horses in work there."
The James Cummings trained Cascadian is the $4.20 favourite for the Australian Cup with Bet365.
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