By Ray Hickson
It’d be easy to assume that winning the Golden Slipper had a direct effect on trainer Gary Portelli’s new season two-year-old numbers.
The reality is when She Will Reign won the world’s richest two-year-old race Portelli’s yearling numbers were already healthy.
But he’s still a little surprised, as the search begins for a second Slipper winner, to be taking five youngsters – a colt and four fillies - into the first two-year-old races of the season at Randwick on Saturday.
“We’re pretty happy that our owners have invested some money in yearlings and they’re up and racing already and are all in perfect order,’’ Portelli said.
“I’d already had 36 yearlings before we won the Slipper. We ended up with 42 all up.’’
Portelli saddles up Exceltic in the Listed $150,000 Breeders’ Plate (1000m) and Cortesta, Zerchois, I Stole Your Love and Now Or Never in the Listed $150,000 Gimcrack Stakes (1000m).
He deliberately avoided the official Canterbury trials on September 18, preferring to trial all his two-year-olds at home 10 days earlier and is hoping that move pays off.
“We had a system where we worked out which ones were going to be more precocious types and we sent them all to Warwick Farm trials,’’ he said.
“Whoever trialled well would stay in and whoever didn’t we’d turn out.
“We trialled seven, one pulled up a little shinny and another was too immature so we’ve ended up with five out of the seven.
“They haven’t missed any work, shins have been fine and they had a nice half mile gallop on Tuesday morning running times that older horses usually run.’’
So how does Portelli sort out the four fillies - quite an achievement for any trainer - in the Gimcrack?
His pecking order is a little different to the TAB market which has Now Or Never $9, Zerchois $12, Cortesta $26 and I Stole Your Love at $34.
“I would have been leaning towards Cortesta but then she drew 14 so she’s going to need a lot of luck,’’ he said.
“They’re not educated to cop pressure at this stage so she’ll need a good ride.
“Zerchois goes like a rocket, she’s never been beaten in any of her gallops. She never lets anyone get past her so she will run a hell of a race I’m sure.
“Now Or Never is going to be a finisher. She’s a big, strong two-year-old and I like the way she finishes off her work of a morning. I Stole Your Love has improved since her trial, she’s come on unbelievably.
“We’re going to the races with some nice horses. If it’s not this weekend they are going to win races.’’
As for the colt Exceltic, he said he lacks gate speed and will have to be ridden back from barrier 10.
“He’s a big slow learner and the last thing he needed was to draw 10,’’ he said.
“He’s probably going to get back and will need a lot of luck. I’m expecting to see him finishing off but going back from a wide gate is not ideal over 1000m with a young horse learning his trade.’’