Star jockey Chris Parnham believes Montelena could develop into a Perth Cup contender next season, following her third straight win at Belmont on Saturday.

The Darren McAuliffe-trained Montelena continued her strong winter form in the All Flags Signs & Banners Handicap (2000m), her first start beyond 1800m.

Parnham settled the four-year-old in the second half of the field and was able to wear down a game Gunnago in the final 100m to score by a length.

While he conceded the 2021 Perth Cup could come too soon, Parnham said he wouldn’t be surprised if Montelena was in the mix in a further 12 months.

“She does give me the feel she’s got good staying ability and she settles really well in her races,” he told TABradio.

“I don’t think on Saturday her turn of foot was as superior but the week back-up might have had something to do with that.

“I’m not sure what he (McAuliffe) has got planned for her or even running her this carnival.

“I reckon she’s probably a Perth Cup hopeful, maybe not this year but maybe the year after.

“A race like the La Trice early next year would be a good race for her.”

The Group 3 La Trice Classic (1800m) forms part of the support card on Perth Cup day on January 2 and concludes the four-leg mares series over the spring and summer period.

Parnham said he still felt the mare had some maturing to do but was improving her race day manners.

“For the most part she’s been pretty good,” he said.

“She has been a bit of a nightmare in the past but she’s getting better with each run and I’m getting to know her pretty well now.

“Two starts ago she bungled the start but she was really good on Saturday.”

Parnham also scored aboard Madam Torio in the Peninsula Dining Plate (1000m) on Saturday for trainer Martin Allan.

He gets his chance for further success on Saturday afternoon when he teams up with Free Trade in the Listed Idyllic Prince Stakes (1300m).

Free Trade finished fifth in the Belmont Newmarket on August 15 and Parnham said he hoped the star sprinter could bounce back under the Weight-For-Age conditions.

“He carried top-weight first-up,” he said.

“He’s generally better after he’s had a run.

“I’m prepared to forgive him, even though I was disappointed that he didn’t run better.

“Weight-For-Age scale this Saturday, I’m hoping we can see the best of him.”

Tim Walker