“With coronavirus and the borders, it was definitely why we weren’t looking that way but we are happy to take him up there now.
“I think he is better on top of the ground and there is a lot of rain predicted later in the week in Melbourne which we were keen to avoid as well.”
Cherry Tortoni has impressed in two runs this preparation, finishing third in the Listed Exford Plate first-up and runner-up to Glenfiddich in the Group 2 Stutt Stakes last start.
The Night Of Thunder gelding has never finished any worse than third in five career starts to date.
“He’s definitely good enough for a race like that and think he can definitely finish top three,” Payne said.
“If she backs up, I think the Flight Stakes winner Montefilia brings some good form and the grey Love Tap looks like a promising type.
“It should be a good race.”
Cherry Tortoni is a close relation to grand galloper Tie The Knot, which won the Spring Champion Stakes back in 1997.
Cherry Tortoni’s dame Tortoni is the half sister of Tie The Knot.
A list of 19 horses have been nominated for the Spring Champion Stakes which will provide the headline act for Saturday’s $1 million feature.
Impressive Gloaming Stakes winner Love Tap remains the $3 favourite for the Spring Champion while last Saturday’s Flight Stakes victor Montefilia is $3.50.
Montefilia’s trainer David Payne confirmed his plan to back up his star filly in the 2000m feature as he chases Group 1 victories on back-to-back weekends.