Portelli, Collett and Testashadow's Festival Stakes

Warwick Farm’s Gary Portelli had a satisfactory day at Rosehill on Saturday taking the feature $150,000, Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) with Testashadow under Jason Collett as well as the juvenile race with Pierro filly Perfect Pitch under apprentice Rachel King, with both wins at big odds.

Testashadow is now a six-year-old gelding by Testa Rossa and he has been a great servant of the stable with Saturday’s win his eighth from 37 starts. That record has delivered stakes of $1,336,252. 

Mister Sea Wolf (IRE) and Tim Clark inside of Testashadow and Jason Collett, picture

The previous win was nearly a year ago in the Magic Millions Cup over 1400m at the Gold Coast in January. Bringing him back from a spell had Portelli using the same programme, but advancing years with his charge had meant he kept his weight on for longer, not his problem alone, and a last start seventh had given Portelli doubts.

However, on Saturday Testashadow delivered once again, but not without a tough and in the end finely judged ride by Collett.

Testashadow was settled in sixth by Collett as the $3.00 favourite Cabeza De Vaca and King, as expected, took the field through to the top straight and then into the final stretch. Rain had arrived an hour earlier at Rosehill and the track was downgraded to a Soft 6 for the Festival Stakes, and further to a Heavy 8 afterwards, so progress for many was laboured.

Collett reported that he was at Testashadow from the 1000m keeping him going and up to the mark. Testashadow responded well and progress was steady towards the front. They swung wide on the turn and kept to the task, still chasing Cabeza De Vaca down near the rails as they went past the 250m.

With 150m to travel the leader had faded and Testashadow (57kg) was suddenly leading, probably sooner than Collett would preferred, however, once again they stuck to the task.  The challenge came from Mister Sea Wolf (54.5kg) and Tim Clark immediately inside them.

They both went to the line and Collett pushed Testashadow’s neck down and it was crucial in securing the nose victory over Mister Sea Wolf (IRE) (Amadeus Wolf) and Clark with a neck to Red Excitement (Excites) (59.5kg) and Brenton Avdulla.

Mighty Lucky was fourth and Cabeza De Vaca was eighth and reported to be lame.

The time was 1.31.67 with the final 600m in 36.06. Testashadow paid $17.00 on fixed odds and $16.80 on the tote.

Jason Collett, picture

“He is a little older and it has taken a little more time to warm. I trialled him at Randwick to try and get weight off him and he trialled nicely. But I still thought he was a little but chubby today when I saddled him,” said Portelli.

“A great ride, he settled him nicely and brought him to the right part of the track. At the 600m I was worried as he had started at him for an effort already, but he kept at him and got the job done.

“I think we have to head to the Villiers, he is a great horse for our stable and we love him,” he said.

“I thought I had got it as I was holding, but I looked up at the 100m and though oh, with 50m to go I was starting to get a bit worried then and I tried to really get the head down on the line,” said Collett.

Testashadow, out of the Flying Spur mare Moonlight Shadow, is raced by Elite Thoroughbreds Racing, Mr J N Love, Estate of the late L L James, Mr G J Howitt, Mr D R Cull, Mr W R Nelson, Mr P J Miller, Mr N J Cusick, Mr M O'keefe, Mr L D Vaughan, Mr D G Burgun, Mrs D Smallman, Mr A K Martin, Mr A C Martin, Mr R Angeloni and Mr M Adamiec.

Egyptian Symbol and Jason Collett on the outside make light work of the track, Glenall and Brenton Avdulla (yellow) inside and Isorich and Jess Taylor in between, picture

Collett made it a black type winning double when he subsequently rode the Bjorn Baker trained Egyptian Symbol to win the $125,000, listed Starlight Stakes (1100m).

Taking on board the track conditions from his previous win he brought the five-year-old Stratum mare down the outside of the track to overrun the field and go away for a  1 1/4L win over Glenall (Redoute’s Choice) and Avdulla with a further 1 1/2L to Isorich (Choisir) and Jess Taylor.

Egyptian Symbol has the excellent record of four wins from five first up runs. Overall this was her sixth win from 20 starts and with eight placings she has earned stakes of $662,255 for Cressfield Stud.

Festival Stakes, photo finish picture ATC