By Doug Ryan
Port Macquarie gelding Portatorio is poised to vindicate the faith of connections at Taree’s $250,000 “Showcase” TAB meeting on Thursday, after an infection nearly killed the promising galloper a year ago.
The four-year-old may not be as good as he was, but trainer Jenny Graham is only too happy to have the four-year-old back and racing.
“He had an infection in a fetlock joint and nearly died,” she said.
“He has done well to come back to racing.
“The vets said he would be lucky to race again."
After seconds at Taree and Port Macquarie, Portatorio was thrown in the deep end in a Highway race at Randwick on May 27 and wasn’t disgraced, although running 5.7 lengths seventh behind Clipper, which again won at Randwick last Saturday to frank the form.
On that occasion, the gelding was up to six-wide for most of the journey over 1100m.
“The run was okay despite being wide, it was a forget run,” Graham said.
Portatorio was scratched from Muswellbrook during the week due to the state of the track, its weight and having to make the trip.
He will instead line up in the Saxby’s Soft Drinks Benchmark 65 Showcase Handicap over 1250m at Taree Wingham Race Club, where two of his three wins have been posted.
A couple of gallopers which were in the Port race on April 28 are rivals. One is the winner, Hammoon Dream, trained at Newcastle by Kris Lees and fourth placegetter, Drummed Out which won at Taree’s last meeting for the Port stable of John Sprague.
Sprague said he had finally worked out where Drummed Out was most suitable in the run and he has engaged Matthew Paget again to ride his four-year-old gelding.
He also has another four-year-old gelding in Glitra resuming in the race and has engaged 4kg claiming apprentice jockey Cejay Graham.
“Glitra goes well first up, won a recent jump out and has won in the wet,” he said.
Port Macquarie five-year-old gelding Forever Alone, trained by Neil Godbolt, will appreciate this class after winning over 1410m at Grafton and then being a close runner-up at Gosford.
Kempsey trainer Barry Ratcliff has two chances in resuming seven-year-old gelding Malleable and five-year-old mare Pomme Petite, two gallopers most adept in the wet which like the course and distance.
“I want Malleable to break the $100,000 prizemoney mark before he turns eight,” Ratcliff said.
He said Pomme Petite’s run at Port should be forgotten as she doesn’t run well there and he has engaged jockey Blake Spriggs to turn things around.
There are plenty of chances in the tough race, no more so than Newcastle four-year-old mare Fancy Nickers, trained at Newcastle by Steve Hodge, which said “back me next time” with an explosive finish from the tail entering the straight to run third to Cannizzaro at this track when resuming over 1000m on June 2.
The grey mare has only had one start in the wet for no placing and could be a query second-up although Hodge has set her for this race.
Jenny Graham could have a good meeting as she has a top hope in I Wanna Be A Jeep in the Manning River Times Class 3 Handicap over 1400m and handy barrier trialler, first-starter two-year-old Awesome Pluck in the $40,000 New Members Welcome Country Maiden Showcase Plate over 1000m.
DOUG RYAN’S SELECTIONS RACE 1: Jovatico 1, Chui 2, My Pot Of Gold 3. RACE 2: Lucciola Belle 1, My Lucky Eagle 2, General Artie 3. RACE 3: Dubai Sights 1, Gone Viral 2, Navua Mist 3. RACE 4: Awesome Pluck 1, Essemess 2, Whanau Force 3. RACE 5: Spinning Gold 1, Star Fest 2, Coastal Gem 3. RACE 6: Rhymes 1, Imperial Eagle 2, Yeoman 3. RACE 7: Portatorio 1, Drummed Out 2, Fancy Nickers 3. RACE 8: I Wanna Be A Jeep 1, Tabrobane 2, Kool Vinnie 3.