MORNINGTON-based trainer Matt Laurie has struck Group class success with promising colt Portland Sky at The Valley on Saturday 24 October.
The three-year-old son of Deep Field, who broke his maiden status on the Ballarat Synthetic track just two months ago, has quickly risen through the grades to win the $200,000 Group Three Red Anchor Stakes (1200m).
Ridden by jockey Ben Melham, the exciting prospect made every post a winner at his fourth career start to win by three-quarters of a length over the Lindsay Park-trained Bella Nipotina, with the Godolphin-owned Valaquenta finishing a further length away in third.
Trainer Matt Laurie said it was great to land the stakes success with a colt that had shown plenty of ability at home.
“From day dot [he showed us a lot at home],” Laurie said post-race. “Even breaking him in, he just always felt like a quality horse and throughout this preparation he’s just continued to improve. I think he’s just going to keep doing that. We’ve got a really nice horse.”
“We’ve drawn that low gate on the last few occasions and had to ride him a bit forward but I think he’s going to be a much better horse when he can just sit off the speed and show a good turn of foot.”
Laurie had queried how Portland Sky would handle a wet track heading into the race, and despite winning on Saturday, believes he’ll be better suited on a firmer surface.
“I felt like he was a group horse and we were going to strike a wet track at some point,” he said. “I still don’t think he actually handled it to be honest but I’m very pleased obviously to get the win.”
Jockey Ben Melham was stoked with the gritty performance from the colt.
“He jumped out and he led comfortably and then he got absolutely pestered for 200-300 metres and in this tough going (soft 7) today it was a good solid performance from the colt,” Melham said post-race.
“[Matt’s] always had good faith in this horse’s ability and so have I so it’s good to finally see him with a stakes result on the board.”
Last year’s winner of the race, Sartorial Splendor, backed up to run in the $1.5million Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes at his next start. Laurie said Portland Sky, who is nominated for the feature sprint on Derby day, could potentially follow the same route but is wary that his colt is still in his first preparation.
“We’re very mindful it’s his first preparation and we want to be looking after him so it may not be the right thing but if he was jumping out of his skin you never know,” Laurie said.