By Ray Hickson
Gary Portelli describes the path to the Golden Slipper with smart colt Time To Reign as a “rollercoaster of emotions’’ that’s about to take another twist at Randwick on Saturday.
The half-brother to Portelli’s 2017 Slipper winner She Will Reign has, in the space of a month, gone from contender to written off to serious contender and he’s out to confirm the latter in the Group 2 $300,000 UNSW Todman Stakes (1200m).
A month ago Time To Reign was beaten as a $1.60 chance, he then upset Slipper favourite Tassort at $11 and will head into the Todman as the $3.20 favourite.
“It’s a bit the same as before Inglis day - we went there with everyone expecting him to win and he didn’t so we went to the next race and no-one expected him to win and he did,’’ Portelli said.
“So I guess we’re expecting him to win again.
“A couple of years ago with She Will Reign I used to joke with Chris Waller that I knew how he feels turning up to the races and everyone expecting you to win.
“Leading up to it you think of all the negatives and all the things that can go wrong every time you go around. I can’t imagine what it’d be like 30 times in a row.’’
When they clashed in the Group 2 Silver Slipper last month, Time To Reign and Tassort recorded almost identical sectionals for the last 1000m (Punter’s Intelligence).
While most punters would have probably liked to see if Time To Reign could repeat the dose over Tassort on Saturday for his part Portelli is fine with the Godolphin colt’s absence.
With Tassort in a race against time to make it to the Slipper after a setback earlier this week the $3.5 million feature on March 23 has opened up a little.
“I’m happy he’s not in, I’d rather confirm it in the Golden Slipper,’’ he said.
“This is the run we have to have, the fact he’s drawn a good gate means we get a lovely run from gate two and he doesn’t have a gut-buster.’’
Tassort is an easing $6 Slipper favourite with TAB ahead of stablemate and Skyline Stakes winner Microphone ($7) while Time To Reign and Magic Millions winner Exhilarates, who contests the Reisling on Saturday, are at $8 - so we could have a new favourite this weekend.
Portelli learned two years ago that you can lose a major lead-up and still win a Slipper.
She Will Reign was beaten by Frolic in the Reisling Stakes before turning the tables two weeks later and the Todman has a mixed recent history producing Slipper winners.
Time To Reign wins the Silver Slipper at Rosehill on February 23
Sepoy (2011) and Capitalist (2016) were beaten in the Todman while Pierro (2012) and Vancouver (2015) completed the Todman-Slipper double.
Portelli said most of Time To Reign’s racing to date has been “textbook” with him leading or racing handy and expects him to settle just off the pace with cover.
“We’re hoping he can win but if he doesn’t it’s not the end of the world because the record shows you can come out of a defeat the start before the Slipper and still win,’’ he said.
“He should get the right run and it’ll come down to whether he has the skills to push out, the things you need to learn before you get into a high pressure race like the Slipper.’’
Meanwhile, Spaceboy and Disruptor - the two other colts Portelli was hoping to aim at the Slipper – have returned to work this week following setbacks.
Spaceboy pulled up shin sore after running third in the Wyong Magic Millions in December while Disruptor hasn’t raced since chasing home Anaheed in the Victory Vein back in October.