The Sportsman Weekend

Sky’s the limit for talented Portland

- NEIL EVANS @NeilEvansm­ail

IN the sprinting world, he might just be the next big thing.

Super talented four-year-old stallion Portland Sky ($3.20) returns tomorrow ready for a spring preparatio­n that could launch him into star status.

He lines up suitably in the weight-for-age Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at The Valley, drawn the outside gate on a likely deteriorat­ing Soft 6 or 7 surface.

By Deep Field out of a moderately performed WA mare, he’s thrown big to the sireline, boasting those effortless short-course gears.

Portland Sky hasn’t started since beating all bar top class sprinter Masked Crusader in the Group 1 William Reid (1200m) at The Valley in midMarch.

Several weeks prior of course, he produced consecutiv­e stunning wins, firstly leading all the way in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield, then a fighting win in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate over 1100m.

Judging from a recent heavy track trial, Portland Sky looks set to come back even stronger and this looms as an ideal return race.

One big danger also resuming is four-year-old mare September Run ($3.70) who trialled quietly in heavy ground behind powerhouse Nature Strip but will be rushing home off a good speed.

MY MCEWEN TIPS: 1. PORTLAND SKY; 2. September Run; 3. Esta La Roca

In the other WFA Group 2 – Feehan Stakes over a mile

there’s a real sense of timing about Tasmanian sevenyear-old Shot Of Irish ($11.00) fourth-up.

In and around the money

in three runs this campaign, this is a decent step up in class but eight of his nine wins have come on rain-affected ground.

With plenty of rain predicted in the lead-up, he looms as serious value.

On a different scale, this time on the tighter circuit there’s an ‘elephant’ in the room aboard star unbeaten Kiwi of the same name.

A first-up Benchmark 84 winner at Caulfield, carrying 59kg from the inside gate late in the day and first time on rain-affected ground is a massive task I’ll be laying Elephant ($5.00) with the full

trunk.

But keep a big watch on fiveyear-old European import Port Guillaume ($21.00) who is first-up as a gelding in Australia for nearly year off a heavy track trial.

He’s a dominant Group 2 winner over much further at Deauville and will be thundering home late.

MY FEEHAN TIPS: 1. SHOT OF IRISH; 2. Superstorm; 3. Non Conformist

At Randwick for triple Group 2 day, Think It Over ($4.80) can strike second-up in the Chelmsford Stakes over a mile.

The Group 1 George Ryder (1500m) winner from autumn was very strong through the line when resuming in Winx Stakes (1400m) and he normally holds that form next run.

Remember he’s bred to get much further and was only a bit over a length from the mighty Addeybb in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth (2000m) to close out last preparatio­n.

Doncaster winner Cascadian ($3.70) was also impressive charging home fresh in the Winx Stakes but he normally goes back a peg second-up.

The big danger is progressiv­e mare She’s Ideel ($7.50) who carved out terrific closing sectionals in the Winx and tucked away back field from the inside gate, I doubt anything will hit the line harder.

Undoubtedl­y the most intriguing runner is Germanbred Nancho ($31.00) who hasn’t started for nearly two years since winning a string of races up to Group 1 level over much further in Hungary and Germany.

MY CHELMSFORD TIPS:

1. THINK IT OVER; 2. She’s Ideel; 3. Cascadian

As for the Tramway (1400m), I’m not quite prepared to donate spoils to star-in-waiting Zaaki ($2.10) just yet.

Yes, he comes hand in a heartbeat and the set weight conditions are right up his alley, but with Dreamforce, Shout The Bar and Man Of Peace all likely to push forward from lower barriers, this could be a tricky tactical map over the first 400m.

Although he didn’t do much first-up in the Group 3 Show County (1200m), Rock ($10.00) is a pure second-up performer, and drawn to be tucked away back in the field, he can produce an enormous final 400m.

MY TRAMWAY TIPS:

1. ROCK; 2. Zaaki; 3. Dreamforce

GOOD LUCK

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 ??  ?? Portland Sky is Neil’s top pick in tomorrow’s McEwen Stakes.
Portland Sky is Neil’s top pick in tomorrow’s McEwen Stakes.

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