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The Starting Gate - Monday 18th September

By Ray Hickson

Nervous wait

Gary Portelli admits to some nerves about the return of his Everest runner She Will Reign later this month in the wake of the defeat of Queensland filly Houtzen.

The Golden Slipper winner has her second trial this preparation at Rosehill on Tuesday and will have her only Everest lead up run in the Moir Stakes in Melbourne.

Portelli said he felt the pain of Houtzen’s trainer Toby Edmonds as the Magic Millions winner ran third in her first run since the Slipper and didn’t show the speed she’s known for.

“It’s every trainer’s fear that a two-year-old doesn’t come back as a three-year-old,’’ Portelli said.

“I thought to myself, I hope that doesn’t happen to me. I was hoping to see her dominate the older horses.’’

Of course Houtzen’s first-up run couldn’t be classed as a failure but it did illustrate how tough it can be to make the leap to weight-for-age as a filly.

Portelli is under no illusion about the task in the Moir Stakes but says his filly has proven she doesn’t need to lead to win her races.

“It all comes down to where you draw as how you’re going to ride my filly and she has that second string to the bow where she can be ridden quietly,’’ he said.

“We’re going to be taking on stronger horses than (Houtzen) raced the other day. My filly is going to have to be right on her game to win it.’’

She Will Reign has done plenty of work in the anti-clockwise direction and Portelli will be asking her for a bit more in her 900m trial than he did when nosed out by stablemate Single Bullet last time.

Kerrin McEvoy will ride the filly in the trial and in the Moir Stakes.

“She’d be looking forward to doing some work, she’s pretty fresh,’’ he said.

“I made sure I had her in work long enough so if she encountered a little hiccup along the line I wasn’t in all sorts. I think she’s getting a little bored now, I’ve got to get her on the track.’’

Weighty Dilemma

Darren Weir is likely to have the final say on what the top weight in the Epsom Handicap will carry on September 30 with stablemates Humidor and Black Heart Bart expected to receive 58kg when the weights are released later on Monday.

Le Romain should also be high in the weights but if none of the top trio accept the weights will have to be raised to have a 57kg top weight.

Exactly which horses Weir brings to Sydney for the Epsom/Metropolitan meeting will become clearer later this week.

Foxplay is expected to be the highest weighted mare in the field and there are six three-year-olds that will receive the minumum of 48kg.

Australian Derby winner Tavago should head weights for the Metropolitan on 58kg ahead of Chris Waller stablemates Who Shot Thebarman and Libran.

Snowden's Rosy outlook

Pariah’s trainer Peter Snowden is not conceding the Golden Rose to boom colt Menari.

Although Pariah was safely held by Menari in the Run To The Rose on September 9, Snowden said the 1400m on Saturday could even the pair up.

“It’s a different race. I’m not knocking (Menari) at all, we’re going to have to do everything right to beat him but we are a chance of beating him,’’ Snowden said.

“I reckon he is struggling with that 1200m speed, he’s there but only just there. At 1400m he’ll be back another two lengths and get up on the bridle better and I think you’ll see a better turn of foot.’’

Menari downs Pariah in the Run To The Rose - September 9

Menari is a warm $2.10 favourite with TAB for the $1m Golden Rose (1400m) with Pariah $6 and unbeaten Victorian colt Merchant Navy the only other in single figures at $9.

The Snowden stable will also have Assimilate ($15) and Dracarys ($26) in the Golden Rose.

There’s no doubt in Snowden’s mind that Assimilate is a Group 1 performer in the making but is keeping his expectations in check for his spring finale.

“Mentally he’s not really. He might not make the grade this week but I’m confident he will in the autumn,’’ he said.

The $10m question

Just who will take the remaining three spots in the Everest?

Brave Smash became the seventh confirmed runner on Sunday as the Australian Turf Club's representative and who has secured Redkirk Warrior and Vega Magic will be locked in this week.

It appears unlikely that Group 1 winner Terravista and multiple Group 1 placed Spieth will be there as a lack of Everest interest is forcing connections to look to Melbourne.

One missing link in the field to date is a classy three-year-old colt but that could change depending on the result of the Golden Rose.

The field as it stands is Chautauqua, English, Fell Swoop, She Will Reign, Redzel, Houtzen, Brave Smash, Redkirk Warrior*, Vega Magic*.

Horse to follow

Pajaro - couldn't go with them early in the Bill Ritchie but once he straightened up he let down with a very nice sustained sprint to go under less than half a length. Always improves with racing and has come back superbly.

Check out the replays and results for Royal Randwick on Saturday

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