Horses To Follow » Portage


Portage put up a nice performance to finish second to East India in the opening seven-furlong maiden at The Curragh on Saturday, the race that has been won in the recent past by Teofilo, New Approach, Pathfork and last year by Australia, and in which Sea The Stars was beaten on his racecourse debut in 2008.

Just because a race has produced such luminaries in the past, it obviously does not automatically follow that it will produce top class horses in the future, but it does provide an indication of the potential quality of the race. While it is unrealistic to expect that there were several future multiple Group 1 winners lurking in Saturday’s field, there is every reason to believe that this year’s renewal was a good one, with third-placed I Will Excel, a 96-rated performer going into the race, providing a useful barometer.

Michael O’Callaghan’s colt set a decent pace, probably intent on putting his relative experience to good use. Portage was slowly away and was last early on. He was actually niggled along through the early stages by Shane Foley as he figured out what was required of him. Still second last at the two-furlong pole and still only sixth as they passed the furlong pole, he finished off best of all to get to within a neck of the winner, fellow newcomer East India, with a length back to I Will Excel in third, the trio clear of the rest of the field.

Portage is a son of the 2006 winner of this race Teofilo, out of the Zamindar mare Galley, who was essentially a miler but who is from the family of Arc winner Rail Link. As such, there is every chance that he will improve for stepping up from this seven-furlong trip, at least to a mile for this season, but possibly to middle distances next season. He raced as if he would improve for going up in trip. He also raced as if he would improve significantly for the experience. He should have no difficulty winning his maiden now, and he will be interesting when he steps up in grade later in the season.

19th July 2014