Rob Heathcote’s special little filly Startantes...
Connections will be starting to look ahead to a potential 2020 VRC Derby campaign for rising three-year-old Cherry Tortoni after the emerging youngster retained his unbeaten record with a win in Flemington’s Listed $120,000 Taj Rossi Series Final (1600m).
Prepared by former multiple Group 1 winning jockey Patrick Payne, Night Of Thunder gelding Cherry Tortoni made it a perfect three-from-three start to his career ahead of bigger and better things as a three-year-old when he returns in the spring.
The juvenile won on debut at Sale before a lead-up victory at Flemington over 1420m to earn his place in the Taj Rossi Series Final field over the mile.
Jockey Billy Egan continued his successful association with the chestnut who wears the same famous red and white silks as former champion racehorse Tie The Knot.
Cherry Tortoni’s dam, Tortoni, was a half-sister to 13-time Group 1 winner Tie The Knot who won dual editions of the Sydney Cup over the two miles in 1998, 1999.
The breeding then suggests 2000m plus will be ideal for Cherry Tortoni who handled the 1600m well on Saturday thanks in part to a patient and perfectly timed ride by Egan.
Egan settled back in the field aboard the well-backed favourite as the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Narvaez led them around in the Taj Rossi Series Final.
Not wanting to use up too much energy early with his mount donning the big 61kg top weight, Egan allowed Cherry Tortoni to sit back and get into his rhythm.
Coming into the turn the eventual winner was travelling strongly at the back before quickening late and proving too strong for his rivals.
There was a gutsy challenge right on the line by the runner-up Alcyone for Godolphin, but Cherry Tortoni had the class to hold on in a thrilling finish.
Both horses could be aimed at the Group 1 $2 million VRC Derby (2500m) back at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival with the pedigree to suggest they would be well-suited to the staying test.
In third was Tavistock gelding Johnny Get Angry who debuted on June 20 when second last (13th) behind Cherry Tortoni under the training of Leon & Troy Corstens.
He had his first run for his new trainer Denis Pagan in the Taj Rossi Series Final, former AFL coaching legend Pagan thrilled to celebrate a Listed placing with his first ever runner.
“He was terrific,” Pagan said post-race.
“He just got held up there for a while, but when he got out, just terrific.
“It’s early days yet, but just exciting to have my first runner at Flemington.”
2020 Taj Rossi Series Final Results
|1||1||CHERRY TORTONI||Patrick Payne||Billy Egan||6||61kg||$2.35F|
|2||6||ALCYONE||James Cummings||John Allen||0.1L||9||56.5kg||$5.50|
|3||8||JOHNNY GET ANGRY (NZ)||Denis Pagan||Lachlan King (a)||1.85L||3||56.5kg||$101|
|4||3||SUPER YULONG||Matt Laurie||Ben Melham||3.1L||4||58kg||$11|
|5||11||TOYZ ON FIRE||Tony & Calvin McEvoy||Damien Oliver||4.85L||7||56kg||$7|
|6||5||MYSTIQUE FALCON (NZ)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Jye McNeil||5.05L||8||57kg||$14|
|7||2||NARVAEZ||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Dwayne Dunn||5.15L||2||58kg||$10|
|8||7||BURLEIGH BOY||Danny O’Brien||Craig Williams||5.9L||5||56.5kg||$13|
|9||12||INSAAF||Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)||Michael Dee||6L||1||56kg||$18|
|10||13||BILLIEO||Mark Stephenson||Lewis German (a)||18L||10||56kg||$201|
|10||TRODAIRE||Lloyd Kennewell||Joe Bowditch||0|
|9||MAUI (NZ)||Phillip Stokes||Daniel Stackhouse||0|
|4||CONFRONTATIONAL||Jason Warren||Jamie Kah||0|
*Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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