Judge Cannot Separate Portland Sky and Celebrity Queen in a Thrilling Oakleigh Plate

Mark Smith - Saturday February 20

With a half-length covering the first five across the line, the judge could not separate the three-year-old Deep Field colt Portland Sky and the four-year-old Redoute’s Choice mare Celebrity Queen in Saturday’s Group 1 Neds Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield.

Too close to call (image Grant Courtney)

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 the prize in the final stride.

OK we'll share it (image Grant Courtney)

“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.”

William Pike said he was happy to share the prize.


p;“With the day I’m having I’m pretty happy to share one,” he said.

“The other end is a second, so I’ll take this. It was a good effort. I was trying to steer away from the inside, but I couldn’t find the way out in the middle of the track so just went where I had to. She was very brave right thought the line and attacked every bit to it.

“It’s great to be back. (I’m) eating a bit of humble pie today but I’ll take what I can get.”

Trained by Grant and Alana Williams, Celebrity Queen was narrowly beaten in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot last November so connections were happy to share the prize.

“I thought, watching the race, we had just got there,” Williams said.

“But when I saw the slo-mo I thought we’d lost. So it was a weird feeling because I’d thought we’d lost so I’ll take the dead heat any day. We’ll take it. Small steps.

“She’s gone up to her career form. She’s been such a trier. Very rarely she gets beaten. She always has a crack.”

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.”

Deep Field

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.

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.

Sky Rumba has a yearling filly by Sessions, which failed to make her $60,000 reserve at the just completed Perth Magic Millions.

After foaling a colt by Universal Ruler last spring, Portland Sky was bred back to Universal Ruler.

Celebrity Queen advances her record to seven wins and four seconds from 13 starts with earnings of $825,780.

Redoute's Choice

A homebred for Bob and Sandra Peters, Celebrity Queen is the only foal to race out of the More Than Ready (USA) mare Celebrity Miss who won eight and placed in four of her 20 starts while banking almost $300,000.

Granddam Miss Margaret (Marscay) won eight and placed in four of her 20 starts, highlighted by a pair of wins at the highest level in the VRC Chrysler (Cantala) Stakes and South Australian Oaks.

Celebrity Miss has a yearling colt by Xtravagant already named Celebrity Prince. She has a filly foal by the same stallion and was bred back to the Newhaven Park Stud resident last spring.


Race Result - Neds Oakleigh Plate Gr1 1100m

Caulfield Track: Good(3) Time: 1:02.70
Celebrity Queen
T: G & A Williams J: W Pike 53.5
4m Redoute's Choice (AUS) x Celebrity Miss (AUS) (More Than Ready (USA))
Portland Sky
T: M M Laurie J: Teodore Nugent 50
3c Deep Field (AUS) x Sky Rumba (AUS) (Shrewd Rhythm (AUS))
T: R & C Jolly J: Damian Lane 57
5g Magnus (AUS) x Yarra Bank (AUS) (Bianconi (USA))
Brooklyn Hustle
T: J Warren & D Krongold J: Jye McNeil 52
4m Starspangledbanner (AUS) x Joint Aspiration (GB) (Pivotal (GB))
Dirty Work
T: M, W & J Hawkes J: K Mc Evoy 57
4h Written Tycoon (AUS) x Maidel (AUS) (Ad Valorem (USA))
Sword Of Mercy
T: M Ellerton & S Zahra J: Dean Holland 52
5m Sebring (AUS) x Curtana (AUS) (Exceed And Excel (AUS))
T: M Ellerton & S Zahra J: Jamie Kah 58
5g Zoustar (AUS) x Atotori (AUS) (Haradasun (AUS))
Prophet's Thumb
T: A & S Freedman J: D Yendall 52
5m I Am Invincible (AUS) x Set To Skelter (AUS) (Reset (AUS))
T: L & T Corstens J: M J Dee 50
3c Zoustar (AUS) x Vanilla Ice Cream (AUS) (More Than Ready (USA))
Bold Star
T: G V Richards J: Patrick Moloney 52.5
5g Needs Further (AUS) x Alzahra Star (AUS) (Danewin (AUS))
T: A J Cummings J: M Zahra 55
5m Zoustar (AUS) x Missy Cummings (AUS) (Magnus (AUS))
T: C Maher & D Eustace J: G Boss 51
3c Not A Single Doubt (AUS) x Madame Andree (AUS) (War Emblem (USA))
T: G V Richards J: D Moor 52
4g Barbados (AUS) x Jaalippy (AUS) (Foxhound (USA))
How Womantic
T: C Maher & D Eustace J: Lachlan Neindorf 52
4m The Wow Signal (IRE) x Banderilla (AUS) (Delzao (AUS))
T: P Stokes J: Michael Poy 53.5
4g The Brothers War (USA) x Maltese (AUS) (Tale Of The Cat (USA))
MM Gold Coast Yearling Sale $60,000
V:Kooringal Stud Wagga Wagga NSW
B: Peter Diamond/Cumani Racing
Riding The Wave
T: L Smith J: Will Price 52
5g Malibu Moon (USA) x Rolling Sea (USA) (Sefapiano (USA))
T: G Ryan & S Alexiou J: D Oliver 55.5
4h Exceed And Excel (AUS) x Bahia (AUS) (Snippets (AUS))
T: A & S Freedman J: Damien Thornton 50
3c Street Boss (USA) x Itameri (AUS) (Exceed And Excel (AUS))
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