Cherry Tortoni blossoms at Flemington

Cherry Tortoni and Billy Egan stride out for a comfortable victory in the 1420m Rod Johnson Handicap at Flemington on Saturday. Photo: Racing Photos.

Those famous red silks and white cap were at it again at Flemington on Saturday with Cherry Tortoni bolting in for a 1.5 length victory in the 1420m Rod Johnson Handicap.

The two-year-old that is prepared by Patrick Payne and owned by Sandy Tait and Jill Nivison, was ridden a treat by Billy Egan, avoiding trouble when two and three horses wide, before showing a freakish turn of foot to win comfortably. 

“I think he’s going to be a pretty handy horse for the future, I was happy coming around the corner on him,” Egan said.

“We had the option to come around the outside and work over the top of them, so it worked out well for us.”

Cherry Tortoni has an impressive pedigree, being by Irish sire Night Of Thunder, and out of Tortoni, who is coincidently out of Whisked, the Group One winning mare and the dam of champion, Tie The Knot.

Payne had a strong affinity with Tie The Knot as a jockey, riding him towards the end of his career; most notably winning the 2001 and 2002 Chipping Norton Stakes during the champions record breaking run in the feature event. 

The Victorian trainer was understandably impressed by the efforts of Cherry Tortoni and eluded to the fact he would only get better.  

“Knowing the horse, that was pretty impressive. We haven’t given him a full education yet so there is more to do,” Payne said.

“There’s no firm plans for the spring.

“He’s the type of horse that doesn’t need a big break, so we’ll look at something in the spring but not sure what as yet.”

Punters were also rewarded for following the locally bred chestnut, with Cherry Tortoni paying $3.10 on the NSW tote after $4.50 was on offer earlier in the week. 

The result also means the promising youngster keeps a perfect start to his career, with two wins from as many starts, earning connections just over $70,000.