Horses To Follow » Portage


Portage did well to win the good one-mile handicap at Ascot on Saturday. Held up towards the rear of the field and on the near side by William Buick through the early stages of the race, the Godolphin horse moved up nicely on the near side at the three-furlong pole, and he travelled well on the run to the two. It did take him a little while to pick up when his rider went for him, it took him a few strides to engage top gear and, for a moment, you thought that he wasn’t going to get there. But he stretched his head out nicely inside the final furlong, caught the long-time leader Mutasayyid, and moved forward nicely to win by an ever-increasing length.

This was much more like it from the Michael Halford-trained colt. He raced just twice last season, he was second on his debut in a maiden that is usually a really good maiden at The Curragh on Irish Oaks weekend, and he won on his second run in September. On his debut this season, he ran an eye-catching race behind his stable companion Hasanour in a handicap at The Curragh on Irish Guineas weekend, and he was well backed for the Britannia at Royal Ascot on the back of that run. It never really happened for him in the Britannia, he was drawn high, 29 of 29, and he never really got into the race. He proved here that that run was all wrong.

The handicapper raised him 8lb to a mark of 98 for this, but that is fine. He has raced just five times in his life, and he retains lots of scope for progression. He handles fast ground and easy ground, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next. He could be a Cambridgeshire horse, and he could be even better than a handicapper in time.

25th July 2015