It literally doesn’t get any closer than the finish of the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate did at Caulfield today where Portland Sky and Celebrity Queen could not be separated by the judge.
In a driving finish, it was a case of the master versus the apprentice as the young apprentice Theodore Nugent (on Portland Sky) tried everything he could to see off the determined challenge of Celebrity Queen (with William Pike aboard) who, with the line beckoning, had suddenly forged into contention along Portland Sky’s inside.
In the end, Nugent would have been extremely unluck had Pike upstaged him because he had ridden the perfect race, tracking Ancestry and Anders early on before pushing the go button early in the straight.
Portland Sky’s response was instant and he quickly claimed the advantage and seemed to be on his way to a comfortable win before Pike rallied Celebrity Queen to turn the finish into a nail-biter.
It was Nugent’s first Group 1 win.
“My horse took me a long way into it … but It was a long way to the post,” said Nugent. “It was about 50m out when I heard The Wizard blowing down my neck.
“Full credit to (trainer) Matt Laurie and the team for bringing the horse here today. We’ll share the dead heat. It is a Group 1 at the end of the day,” concluded Nugent.
William Pike had praise for Grant and Alana trained Celebrity Queen.
“She did a good job,” said Pike. “It was a good effort.
“I was trying to steer away from the inside, but I couldn’t find a way out to the middle of the track, so I just went where I had to.
“She was very brave. She attacked all the way to the line.”