By Ray Hickson
Confidence is a tricky thing to instill in a horse after a bad experience and trainer Gary Portelli believes it’s the key to bringing the best out of promising filly Parche.
The Gerry Harvey-owned three-year-old broke her tail bone as a younger horse and she has developed a habit of using the barrier stalls as a cushion to get comfortable.
She always seems to be on the back foot at the start and Portelli has the fingers crossed she will grow out of it with race experience.
“She has a bad habit of fumbling the start, she’s such a big girl,’’ Portelli said.
“Her tail sits inside her hindquarters a bit, breaking the tail bone is probably the reason she didn’t get going early.
“There’s no pain there but she seems to get into the gates and sit right up against the back. So when the gates open she is slow out but hopefully she gets over that.’’
The Holler @ Darley Handicap (1550m) at Canterbury on Wednesday will only be Parche’s second race start but it is already shaping as a campaign crossroad.
Portelli is using ear muffs pre-race to help settle her after she became worked up behind the gate on debut at Warwick Farm last month but still expects her to settle back after drawing eight of nine.
“She gets nervous in situations where she has to wait so we’ll take them off as she goes in,’’ he said.
Parche runs fourth at Warwick Farm on August 28
“I think this is where we make a decision whether we are going into some of the better races or we pull up and let her use the experience she has had and give her time to strengthen a bit more.’’
In that eye-catching debut fourth behind Just Thinkin’ over 1300m, Punter’s Intelligence sectional data shows Parche recorded the race’s fastest last 600m of 34.48 (almost two lengths quicker than any other) and it's no surprise she opened TAB favourite.
“We were pleased to see what she did in the race after she trialled so well,’’ Portelli said.
“Sometimes horses trial nicely and don’t turn up on race day, I’ve had a few of those this year so far.’’
The Warwick Farm trainer has two other runners on Wednesday, he says Vincero (ANZ Bloodstock News Handicap, 1100m) has his chance from an ideal gate while concedes it’s not going to be wet enough for Dio D’Oro (TAB Handicap, 1250m).
“Vincero drew wide and came wide (first-up), I would have rather him cut the corner because outside was no good,’’ he said.
“He’ll be a lot better for the run and he should run well from a good gate with no weight.
“Dio D’oro is probably one of the best wet trackers I’ve trained. Last time he raced on the Wednesday and it rained and rained from the Thursday.’’
Meanwhile, Portelli said it’s disappointing to have to miss the spring with Time To Reign but is confident being patient will reap rewards come the autumn.
The Silver Slipper winner was due to kick off his campaign in either the Rosebud or San Domenico Stakes last month but couldn’t recover in time from a virus.
“There was no option, you can’t work them when their lungs have mucous in them because you end up with a bleeder,’’ he said.
“So let’s give this horse a chance to be a good horse in the autumn.’’