On Saturday, 27 years after guiding Soho Square to that frontrunning win, Payne has his first chance to win the famous race as a trainer when he saddles up Widgee Turf in the $3 million event.
“It's a very prestigious race and to win it as a rider was fantastic,” Payne said.
“To win it as a trainer would be even better.
“I think that is the way it is. You know there's so much involved in training horses and a lot can go wrong. So I think it's a lot more satisfying, or a sense of achievement, as a trainer because of that fact.”
Former star jockey Payne has been training just over a decade and notched more than 500 wins but Widgee Turf would give him his first Group One win if successful on Saturday.
Widgee Turf is raced by Gordon and Marlene McIntosh and is closing in on $1 million prize money with 10 wins and 12 placings from 27 starts.
He cost his owners $4500 as a weanling.
“I had nothing to do with buying him, but they only paid $4500 for him,” Payne said.
“The McIntoshes are really easy to deal with. If he was able to run really well in a race like this I think it would make everyone really happy.”
Widgee Turf won the Listed March Stakes at Flemington last start and Payne believes the time is right for the five-year-old's first chance in a big Group One handicap, on a suitable rain-affected track.
Payne had hoped to run him in last year's Stradbroke in Brisbane but he was balloted out.
“We've always wanted to when he was mature enough. And it's just perfect timing,” he said.
“He's rated highly enough to get in but low enough to get in close to the minimum weight. And he's much better on softer or wetter ground so that's why I thought Sydney can get a bit wet at this time of year and then we'll go on to the Stradbroke as well, all going well.
“Everything in panning out pretty well. He's drawn a bit awkwardly so he's probably just going to have to be ridden a little bit further back than what you'd really love, but he does go better ridden quiet anyway.
“I'm not sure how he is going to measure up. Brutal is a lovely little horse, I reckon. He's got a lot of quality about him and I'm not sure Widgee Turf has got his quality.
“He gives you what he has got and he can even dig into his reserves sometimes. You couldn't ask for more than that.”