Melbourne Cup winning jockey and now Ballarat-based trainer Michelle Payne is confident her imported galloper Kaspersky is on track to make a full recovery from surgery ahead of next spring’s 2018 Epsom Handicap.

Michelle Payne

Jockey-turned-trainer Michelle Payne has English import Kaspersky targeting next spring’s 2018 Epsom Handicap over the Randwick mile. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

Payne is best known for making history as the first female jockey to ride a Melbourne Cup winner to victory when she was part of the Prince Of Penzance fairy-tale, Darren Weir’s galloper saluting in the ‘Race That Stops a Nation’ as a $101 roughie in 2015.

She is now focusing on her budding career on the other side of the saddle as a trainer and one of her recent stable acquisitions is former European galloper Kaspersky.

The seven-year-old Footstepsinthesand entire is a multiple Group winner overseas, but he failed in his Australian race debut this spring when still prepared by Jane Chapple-Hyam.

Kaspersky lined-up as an outside chance in Caulfield’s Group 1 $500,000 Toorak Handicap (1600m) on October 14, but ran an unplaced 16th behind the Weir-trained winner Tosen Stardom.

Tosen Stardom went on to frank the form winning the Group 1 $2 million Emirates Stakes (2000m) two starts later at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, while Kaspersky underwent a subsequent joint operation to remove bone chips.

“He’s in the stables recovering from an operation on his front two joints,” Payne told Racing Victoria.

“He’s got to have four months out so I think we’ll aim for next spring with him.”

Originally Kaspersky was targeting a clash with the world’s best Winx in the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley second-up with Payne on his back.

The English import was a late scratching on Cox Plate Day however suffering from swelling and soreness in his near fore leg.

Payne confirmed plans to head up to Sydney during the spring with Kaspersky, eyeing a run at Royal Randwick over the mile in the Group 1 $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m) in late September.

“He’s definitely got the ability and if we can get him back to 100 percent, it’ll be pretty exciting and I’d love to get him up to a race like the Epsom because I think the Randwick mile would suit him,” she said.

This year’s Epsom Handicap winner Happy Clapper meanwhile is back in work with trainer Patrick Webster, who has the $3.58 million earner targeting the Group 1 $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m) for a third time in April.

Happy Clapper has twice run second in the Doncaster Mile, finishing runner-up to Winx in 2016 and It’s Somewhat in 2017, and will look to finally break through with a win second-up.