Progressive three year-old Deep Field colt Portland Sky was a two time Group winner going into Saturday’s Group I MRC Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and with a light weight and a brave heart he ran the race of his life to dead heat for victory with classy older mare Celebrity Queen.
With a half-length covering the first five across the line, the judge could not separate the Portland Sky and the four-year-old Redoute’s Choice mare Celebrity Queen declaring a rare Group I dead heat.
The dead-heaters share a Western Australian heritage with Portland Sky sourced from the Perth Magic Millions and Celebrity Queen sporting the silks of Bob Peters.
Coming off a win in the Group III Manfred Stakes at Caulfield, the Matt Laurie-trained Portland Sky was driven to the lead in the straight by Teo Nugent and looked set to claim the prize.
However, William Pike was working away on Celebrity Queen who came up the inside to share victory in the final stride.
“It was a long way to the post about 50 metres out with ‘the wizard’ blowing down my neck,” Nugent said.
“My horse took me a long way into it. Full credit to Matt Laurie and the team today. We’ll share a dead heat but it’s a first Group 1 (for me) and a big thank you to the team.
“Four years ago I started off with this crew. They taught me how to ride and a big thank you to them. I’m so thrilled. It’s a big team behind me and albeit a dead heat it is a Group 1 at the end of the day.
“The emotions are coming but it is a great thrill. He had a great turn-of-foot when I asked him, especially 1200 back to 1100, he’s got an abundance of form around him with Tagaloa and Aysar form.”
It was a second Group 1 for Matt Laurie.
“I had a Derby winner, Escado, a few years back, so to get this is great,” Laurie said.
“We’re getting some support and hopefully the next few years are going to go well for us.
“That is tremendous. I’m not shocked. We’ve always had a big opinion of the horse. I toyed with the idea of running him in the Zeditave, I thought that would be easy money.
“In the end we thought if he doesn’t perform, we won’t have lost too much, it just wasn’t his time, but if it comes off, there’s a lot of reward. I’m glad we took the punt.”
Portland Sky advances his record to four wins from seven starts with earnings of $439,075.
Consigned by Alwyn Park Stud, as agent for Anita Vale Stud, Portland Sky was purchased by his trainer for $85,000 at the 2019 Perth Yearling Sale.
Bred by Anita Vale Stud, he is the first winner from two to race out of the Shrewd Rhythm mare Sky Rumba who is a half-sister to multiple Listed winner London Line out of a half-sister to triple Group 1 winner Scenic Shot.
Portland Sky has the honour of becoming the first Group I winner for Deep Field, who has 17 lots at Inglis Premier and seven for Inglis Easter.