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Maiden Retreat For Talented Baker & Portelli Youngsters

By Ray Hickson

A maiden at Hawkesbury in early spring isn’t where Bjorn Baker thought he’d be with Edison nor Gary Portelli with Spaceboy.

Trainer Bjorn Baker (Pic: Bradley Photos)

But both talented three-year-olds have been sent back to provincial level on Thursday with the task of providing a confidence boost for themselves and their trainers.

Baker had much loftier plans for Edison than the Two Sons Premium Plate (1300m) evidenced by him contesting the Group 3 Up & Coming Stakes and Listed Dulcify Stakes at his past two starts.

“I didn’t think I’d be here I must be honest, we’re hoping he can get on the board,’’ Baker said.

“He still looks great, his last run I don’t think he was at his best but we’ll get a good idea where we are at.’’

Edison finished an unlucky fourth in the Up & Coming (1300m) but didn’t produce the same finish from a striking position in the Dulcify (1500m) suggesting he may not have run out the extra trip.

Baker said that theory may have some weight but is focusing on shaking off the maiden tag and it all looks good for the colt on paper with a favourable draw in a field with plenty of exposed form.

“This time of year the provincial maidens can be tough and city maidens in particular,’’ he said.

“At the moment he’s headed for a maiden, he’s definitely shown us more than enough to be competitive and if he goes well we’ll have a bit of a think where he goes.’’

Both Edison and Spaceboy were $2 TAB favourites on Wednesday for their respective races at Hawkesbury and Spaceboy’s trainer Gary Portelli is hoping the decision to geld his charge will pay off quickly.

In four starts as a two-year-old Spaceboy recorded three placings, including a debut second to Tassort in the Golden Gift and a third to Unite And Conquer and Exhilarates in the Wyong Magic Millions, but let Portelli down with his last start fourth to Splintex in June.

Trainer Gary Portelli (Pic: Steve Hart).

“We were disappointed he didn’t come up to expectations,’’ Portelli said.

“He wasn’t quite finishing off so we are hoping now he’s gelded he’ll be more athletic and a bit stronger.

“He looks a lot lighter on his feet and a more relaxed horse as well. We are hoping to see him fulfil the promise he showed before.’’

Like Baker, Portelli is wary that a maiden can throw up a smart horse and Spaceboy will have five unraced horses to contend with in the McWilliams Stolen Colt Plate (1000m) including a well bred three-year-old called Mir from the Hawkes stable who has won his past two trials.

Portelli elected not to trial Spaceboy a second time, after he scored by half a length at Rosehill over 894m on September 17, and see what happens on race day.

“It’s always nice to teach them what they are out there for but this time of year there are no weak maidens,’’ he said.

“We’ll take the low road but there might be a smart one in it, you just never know. We’ve done everything we can do, it’s just up to him now.’’

All the fields, form and replays for Thursday's Hawkesbury meeting

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