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Mornington trainer Matt Laurie may consider a late 2020 Coolmore Stud Stakes entry for his progressive colt Portland Sky after the horse’s terrific Cox Plate Day effort to win the Group 3 $200,000 Red Anchor Stakes (1200m) at The Valley.
Jockey Ben Melham enjoyed a second success in the Moonee Valley sprint for three-year-olds having won back in 2013 aboard the Peter Moody-trained Thermal Current, and was happy to do so for Laurie who he described as a talented and underrated trainer.
Despite a rain-affected track, Melham was happy to use the inside draw aboard the Deep Field colt Portland Sky who was fast out the gates to secure an easy lead up front.
Forcing the rest of the field to do the chasing, the leader settled beautifully and was far too good leading from barrier to box in a stylish effort.
On the line Portland Sky ($4.60) held a three-quarter margin over the beaten favourite Bella Nipotina ($3.80) for Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes, the Pride Of Dubai filly doing well to finish second after being posted three wide during her on-speed run.
In third to round out the Red Anchor Stakes trifecta was the Godolphin-raced son of Street Boss Valaquenta ($5) who was also strong to the line in an improved run.
“He’s a lovely colt, he did a good job to win, he’s got good gate speed,” winning hoop Melham said post-race.
“He’s really been looking for the 1200.
“A good solid performance by the colt.
“I was happy to stay on the fence in this race…proved it wasn’t any disadvantage.
“Good to finally see him with a stakes’ result on the board.”
Adding further merit to the victory was the fact Portland Sky was nearly a race day scratching with Laurie concerned about the Soft-rated track and still convinced the horse is far better on top of the ground.
“I felt like he’s a group horse and we’re going to strike a wet track at some point,” he said of his decision to run the horse in the end.
“I still don’t actually think he handled it to be honest, so very good to get the win.”
Laurie has always had a high opinion of his now stakes-winner Portland Sky and hadn’t ruled out a late nomination for the up-and-comer in Flemington’s Group 1 $1.5 million Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) Saturday week on Derby Day.
“He always felt like a quality horse,” he said.
“Throughout this preparation he’s just continued to improve and I think he’s just going to keep doing that. We’ve got a really good horse.
“We’re not nominated (for the Coolmore) but we’ll certainly see how he pulls up. We’re very mindful it’s his first preparation and we want to look after him.
“It may not be the right thing (to run him), but if he’s jumping out of his skin, you never know.”
2020 Red Anchor Stakes Results
|1||5||PORTLAND SKY||Matt Laurie||Ben Melham||1||57kg||$4.60|
|2||7||BELLA NIPOTINA||Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes||Michael Rodd||0.75L||6||56.5kg||$3.80F|
|3||1||VALAQUENTA||James Cummings||Mark Zahra||1.75L||9||57kg||$5|
|4||8||MILDRED||Grahame Begg||Jordan Childs||1.95L||3||56.5kg||$10|
|5||2||FREE TO MOVE||Ken & Kasey Keys||Luke Currie||4.2L||7||57kg||$8|
|6||3||ROCK THE RING||Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes||Jamie Mott||6.2L||5||57kg||$10|
|7||9||TARCOOLA DIVA||Gemma Rielly||Joe Bowditch||6.3L||2||55kg||$26|
|8||4||ICE ICE BABY||Wendy Kelly||Jamie Kah||6.8L||4||57kg||$9|
|9||6||RHODE SCHOLAR||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Michael Walker||11.05L||8||57kg||$41|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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