By Ray Hickson
Trainer Gary Portelli is convinced talented sprinter Single Bullet’s troubles are behind him and he can make a positive start to his summer prep at Rosehill on Saturday.
It’s easy to forget that as a young horse Single Bullet was a Group 3 winner and multiple Group placed but in recent campaigns he hasn’t been as consistent as Portelli would have hoped.
“We had a lot of issues with flat feet and seedy toe and he was never 100 per cent happy on hard tracks and he can't handle the wet,’’ he said.
“He needs a track that’s coming off heavy into the slow range because he likes a bit of cushion.
“We spent six months in the paddock getting it right and he’s 100 per cent in himself and just ready to run a good race.”
The six-year-old has been overlooked as a $23 chance with TAB in the Members Christmas Handicap (1100m) and Portelli is adamant he’s going “better than ever” and can make an impact.
Single Bullet’s last first-up run was a close second to Inanup on a heavy track at Randwick in August – remember Portelli’s thoughts clear on the horse’s wet track vulnerability – but on the back of a rousing trial win a few weeks ago has conditions to suit.
After the claim for apprentice Cejay Graham, the gelding will carry just 55.5kg.
“He had a beautiful trial and his work has been spot on,’’ he said.
“He’s going to the races as an underdog from barrier one, look out I reckon he’ll run a huge race.
“If you look at what he’s raced against at his top, he beat Jungle Edge once, he’s going to be competitive from a good gate.”
Stablemate Above And Beyond is bursting to win a race and Portelli has the fingers crossed that the breaks go his way in the Rosehill Bowling Club Handicap (1200m).
Two narrow defeats since a spell encouraged the trainer to treat at least one of them as a win and step him up in class to get weight relief and he hopes the gelding can make use of a more favourable draw.
Above And Beyond clocked the fastest last 600m of the race when he ran 33.49 (Punter's Intelligence) into his close third, under 60kg, behind Snowfire at Rosehill on November 20.
Single Bullet wins a trial at Rosehill on November 12
“I think this prep we’ve seen a lot happier horse at home and I think the tempo of these races he’s been in has been solid and I think that’s showing what he wants,’’ Portelli said.
“He wants a good tempo so he can het home. He looks like he’s looking for further but I don’t think he actually is. We’ve tried him over further in preparations gone by because he’s been indicating he’s looking for it but he actually wants a fast run race to come off their backs.
“I’m just hoping he doesn’t get as far back as he has been. If he can be midfield it’s not as much ground he has to make up. When you’re getting beat half a head it’s pretty hard to cop.”
The five-year-old was a $13 chance with TAB on Friday.