By Brad Gray
Warwick Farm hosts Saturday’s metropolitan meeting and local trainer Gary Portelli is buoyant about the chances of his small team of runners counting the home track advantage in his favour.
“It’s nice to go across the road instead of throwing them on a horse float that’s for sure,” Portelli said.
“Some horses get a bit fired up on their home track because they know where they are but certainly if your horse copes with it, it’s a huge advantage. You see a lot of Warwick Farm-trained horses win at Warwick Farm.”
Lipizzan has been a revelation for Portelli over the winter with the Sebring filly defying her small stature to produce two wins and two seconds, one of which was in Listed company, from four outings this campaign.
“It’s a funny situation. We’re deep into a preparation with a two-year-old filly and there is not much of her and you keep thinking that she is going to show signs that she has had enough but she certainly hasn’t shown anything yet,” said Portelli, “She is sound, eating her head off and is ready to go again.”
Lipizzan only tips the scales at 420kg which prompted Portelli, after her impressive Randwick win last start, to suggest that the late two-year-old has a heart as big as her body.
“Ridden off the pace last start she showed a turn of foot and we’ll be endeavouring to do the same this weekend if can get some cover.”
“The weight was my biggest worry going into the race but I still think she is well weighted given what she has done compared to some of the other horses there and she gets the 1.5kg claim (of Rachel King). She has earned the weight.”
Lipizzan's last start Randwick win was dominant
Portelli will also be represented by Nicci’s Gold in the TAB Rewards Handicap (1200m) and given her rapid rate of improvement, Portelli admits that he unsure of what to expect from the Nicconi youngster.
“She has been one of those horses that just keeps improving and I’m not sure where she is at because she improves every time she steps out. I like those types of horses and she could quite easily surprise if the speed is on and she gets the right run,” Portelli said.
I Can Rock rounds out the stable’s runners with the six-year-old producing a big finish to win at Warwick Farm back in late May. We haven’t seen him since but that has been by design.
“I’ve purposely kept him fresh. He went out on the water walker for a week or so after he won. He likes it dry, has got no weight on his back and an inform jockey on (Rachel King). There are plenty of ticks in the right boxes so hopefully he puts his best foot forward. If he does, he’ll be very, very hard to beat,” said a bullish Portelli.
“There’s a lot to like about him. He is really well within himself and this morning he was bucking, kicking and carrying on all the way round the track so he is ready to go.
I Can Rock improved his Warwick Farm record to 13:3-3-0 last start
Meanwhile, Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign has begun the next phase of her training program to be ready for the spring, and more specifically, The Everest on October 14 at Royal Randwick.
“She just started her three quarter pace work this morning and is right on target. I noticed today Racing NSW put up a Tweet saying 100 days until The Everest so we’ve got plenty of time.”