Weir with strong hand in Memsie Stakes

Prince Of Penzance is set to return in the Memsie Stakes but it is the Melbourne Cup winner’s stablemates who are the market leaders in the first Group One race of the season.

Victoria’s premier trainer Darren Weir has four horses heading to Saturday’s Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield with Harry Coffey getting the nod to ride Prince Of Penzance in what will be just the gelding’s second race since his famous win at Flemington with Michelle Payne aboard.

Payne has not returned to riding since undergoing pancreatic surgery after a race fall at Mildura in late May, a couple of days after she rode Prince Of Penzance to an eye-catching second in a cameo autumn appearance in the R A Lee Stakes (1600m) in Adelaide.

While Prince Of Penzance is at $26 in the TAB’s all-in market after the release of the 18 Memsie nominations, Weir’s other three runners are the early fancies headed by the Black Heart Bart.

The Goodwood winner is the $2.70 favourite with Mahuta and Australian Guineas winner Palentino at $6.50 and $7 respectively.

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The entries also feature three Classic winners from last season, Australian Derby winner Tavago, Victoria Derby and Rosehill Guineas winner Tarzino and Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa.

The Robbie Laing-trained Lord Of The Sky, who won the Bletchingly Stakes two starts ago before his fourth in the P B Lawrence Stakes, is at $9 along with Sofia Rosa.

New Zealand trainer Stephen Marsh says Sofia Rosa has strengthened and matured mentally since the autumn and he believes she will hit the line strongly over 1400m first-up.

“She’s not just a dour staying horse,” he said.

“She still has a good turn of foot and I think you might see that on Saturday.”

Caulfield Cup favourite Tarzino is expected to have a solid gallop at Caulfield on Tuesday after Monday’s barrier trials at Cranbourne were abandoned because of wet weather.

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