By Ray Hickson
Spaceboy has already had two false starts to his campaign but trainer Gary Portelli is hoping it’s all a blessing in disguise when the speedy galloper resumes at Randwick on Tuesday.
Portelli had planned to kick the four-year-old off around six weeks ago but he sustained a cut to a leg after striking out when being shod so he had to press pause.
He then sent Spaceboy to race in Brisbane on October 24 but the meeting was called off just before his race was due to be run.
So here he is in the Bentley Choisir Handicap (1100m) and taking on open company for the first time.
The horse has had his critics, and Portelli has been one of them in the past, but after three straight wins during the winter up to Benchmark 78 level he said his expectations are high this time around.
“He’s flying, his last gallop was phenomenal,” Portelli said.
“It’s a strong race and it will be a good little test for him, no doubt, because he’s gone up in grade.
“He loves it wet, he’s drawn wide which is perfect and I think he’d be right in the race.”
Spaceboy, $4.60 with TAB, started his winter prep as a maiden and the reputation as something of a speedy squib.
Portelli is adamant that perception will change and his long range plan is to prove he can be effective at 1200m and even 1400m.
What the trainer has been doing behind the scenes since the start of that prep, which realised four wins from six starts, is part of the reason he’s not concerned about kicking off at 1100m.
“We put a tongue tie on and started training him a bit harder, a little longer work, it toughened him up and the rest is history,’’ he said.
“I think 1100m is good because we’ve been able to get more work into him.
“The trip up and back to Brisbane was like a run. He had a gallop on Thursday morning and he just ran ridiculous time.
“It’s more important if he can run 1200m or 1400m, that’s what I want to get him up to this time. I want to get him up to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions.”
Spaceboy's latest trial at Warwick Farm on September 22
It should be pointed out that while Portelli believes he can stretch Spaceboy out in distance he said as that happens he won’t be changing his racing style.
“On what we’ve seen this preparation already he’s more relaxed,’’ he said.
“Last prep those (short) races were just there for him while he was going through his grades.
“In those shorter races you get dictated to by barriers and weights, he has the good speed over 1200m to cross most fields.
“Once we get there we can dictate and be where he wants to be.”