You wouldn't have thought so when he was several lengths back on the straight, but Gary Portelli and Jamie Kah had “no doubt” their talented colt Sejardan would go on to win the Red Anchor Stakes at Moonee Valley.
The three-year-old launched late to win by an official margin of 0.2 lengths over Sweet Ride for Annabel Neasham, who almost looked home after the turn in the Group 3 sprint over 1200m and worth $200,000.
“On the turn I knew the leader was a fair few lengths in front, but the feeling he gave me was he was never in doubt,” Kah told Racing.com.
“That was fantastic. He got quite keen early when the tempo came out of the race and I had to just hand onto him for a few strides.
“He got bumped around, but he was tough. When he had to make the run, he pushed his way out.”
2022 Red Anchor Stakes Replay
Despite Portelli's very high opinion of his emerging star sprinter, he has never been frustrated with his campaign so far, with two sevenths and a six in the Run To The Rose, Golden Rose Stakes and Roman Consul Stakes in Sydney.
“I thought I was going to the Cox Plate this year, not for a 1200m sprint race,” he said with a smile.
“We just thought he was the real deal.
“He came back from a spell and drew bad gates to start off his campaign in Sydney.
“He played up in the gates at Randwick last week on a track where he couldn't miss the start.
“He was last and it was basically a wasted run. He worked brilliantly, and his trackwork rider told me this horse would be better on the Melbourne leg.”
Indeed, that was a good observation.
“We galloped him on Tuesday morning and he was enormous,” Portelli said.
“On the corner I thought ‘he's got a big job to catch this leader – Annabel has him fit'.
“But he just put in and he's a very good colt. Don't worry, he'll be there in the Coolmore next Saturday if he pulls up all right.
“He's a beautiful animal to deal with, beautiful type. He wins the Coolmore and it'll be job done.
“It'll be a lot stronger race. But the way he hit the line today – given even luck in races and when he spots horses in front of him – you see what he does.”
Like his rider Kah, Portelli had a strong feeling Sejardan would launch late in such spectacular fashion.
“With his length and strides he just picks them up. He was always going to win,” he said.
“Once he straightened up, I knew he was going to catch that leader because I could see the look in his eye.
“He just pins his ears back and he can do it. It's all ahead of him.”