The story about the day Patrick Payne first saw gleaming chestnut Cherry Tortoni is worth retelling.
Payne remembers studying the gelding when he arrived at the trainer’s stables and being taken aback by the striking similarities with former great Tie The Knot.
The colour of Cherry Tortoni’s coat, his walk and general demeanour reminded Payne so much of the old champ.
So, the trainer rang owner-breeder Sandy Tait and asked if Cherry Tortoni was related to Tie The Knot.
Tait said Cherry Tortoni just happened to be a grandson of Whisked, the dam of Tie The Knot, winner of 13 Group 1 races and more than $6 million prizemoney.
Payne, a gifted jockey before weight forced him out of the saddle, rode Tie The Knot in many of his big-race wins including the champion’s fourth consecutive Chipping Norton Stakes in 2002, the 21st and final win of the gelding’s career.
Tie The Knot died nine years ago and is buried on Tait’s Riverina property.
Cherry Tortoni’s jockey Kerrin McEvoy will wear the Tait family’s famous colours of red and white cap that were synonymous with Tie The Knot when he rides the emerging three-year-old stayer in the Group 2 $200,000 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Payne, who took out a trainer’s licence in 2008 and has proven himself a master equine conditioner, has prepared Cherry Tortoni to win four of 11 starts including the Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase.
Patrick Payne riding Tie The Knot to victory in the 2002 Chipping Norton Stakes. Picture: Wally ZytnikSource:News Corp Australia
Cherry Tortoni goes into the Rosehill race after a luckless fourth in the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes.
At his previous start, the young stayer was an outstanding second in the Group 1 Australian Guineas.
“He had no luck really at Moonee Valley last start,’’ Payne said.
“But he will appreciate the bigger track at Rosehill, he likes firm ground and he has a good turn of foot.’’
Payne said that Cherry Tortoni won’t have a problem backing up again in seven days for the Group 1 $2 million ATC Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday — the same classic Tie The Knot finished second in behind Gold Guru in 1998.
“It was the plan to go Tulloch Stakes into the Derby,’’ the trainer said.
“We gave some thought about going to the Rosehill Guineas but this looked a more achievable race.
“Like Tie The Knot, this horse is very sound and very tough so it won’t be an issue running again next week.’’
Cherry Tortoni ran fourth in the Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington last spring, coming from near last on the turn, proving he can run the Derby distance.
“He drew the outside barrier in the Derby and there is that short run to the first turn from the 2500m start,’’ Payne said.
“So, we took our medicine and went back on him early. But by the 1000m, it was going to be impossible for him to win the race but he still ran as well as he could and proved he’s a strong stayer.’’
Racing: Watch the latest horse racing TAB market update on the Group 1 Tancred Stakes…
Racing: Watch the latest horse racing TAB market update on the Group 1 Tancred Stakes
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