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Juvenile master Gary Portelli launches a two-pronged attack on Kirkham Plate

3 minute read

Gary Portelli has already landed the Breeders’ Plate this season and is out to add the Kirkham Plate to his tally.

Online article taken from 'The Daily Telegraph'.
Online article taken from "The Daily Telegraph".

Trainer Gary Portelli, renowned as a master trainer of two-year-olds including 2017 Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign, has Belriah and Snitcat lining up the Kirkham Plate (1000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

The Warwick Farm-based trainer told Rails Run he purchased seven two-year-olds for his owners and five of that group got to the official juvenile barrier trials.

Then Portelli had two runners in the first juvenile races of the new season with Sejardan a brilliant winner of the Group 3 Breeders Plate and the well-backed Snitcat unlucky when eighth in the Gimcrack Stakes.

Snitcat is backing up in the Kirkham Plate with the filly rated at $8.50 behind Godolphin youngster Contemporary at $2.90 favouritism.

Belriah, a well-bred colt by promising first-season stallion Pariah, looked impressive winning a Warwick Farm barrier trials recently and is firming at $11 for his race debut.

Portelli revealed promising colt Sejardan has thrived since his Breeders Plate debut win and he is planning to give the youngster an exhibition gallop between races at Canterbury next Wednesday.

"Sejardan had an easy win in the Breeders Plate and he is right to go," Portelli said. "He is on target for the Golden Gift ($1 million, Rosehill, November 6) next month.

"I've found the good horses are the easiest ones to train – you just have to keep them happy."

Startantes won't be troubled coming back in distance to 1400m for the $2 million The Invitation, according to trainer Robert Heathcote.

"I feel 1400m is her best distance," Heathcote said.

"She did run third in the Flight Stakes (1600m) last start but I don't think she is a miler; it was more her class.

"Going back to 1400m is a plus and the filly looks a million dollars."

Startantes is the only three-year-old filly in The Invitation field but is on the third line of betting at $8.50 behind Entriviere at $2.90 favouritism and Icebath ($7.50).

Heatchote, one of Brisbane's leading trainers, has also sent tough on-pacer Emerald Kingdom ($3.20 favourite) to Sydney to contest the Robrick Lodge Filante Handicap (1400m).

"Emerald Kingdom is a big, bold front-running style of horse but he doesn't necessarily have to lead," Heathcote said.

"But what I will be telling (jockey) Tim Clark is not to ride the horse, just sit on him, let the horse do his thing."

Meanwhile, Heathcote reported that Rothfire is doing well in the spelling paddock after missing The Everest with injury for the second successive year.

"Rothfire will be okay, he just needs a good break," Heathcote said. "I'm hoping he will be right for the Brisbane winter carnival next year."

Verry Elleegant and Zaaki are set to rebound off disappointing runs to fight out the finish of the $5 million Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on Saturday.

Timeform's expert Gary Crispe from Racing And Sports predicts it will be Verry Elleegant and Zaaki fending off the challenge of three-year-old young gun Anamoe – but who emerges as the winner?

"The Cox Plate has been a kind race to the seasoned and established down the years," Crispe said.

"Tough and seasoned have been adjectives used to describe many, if not most, of its winners and Verry Elleegant certainly fits that mould."

Champion six-year-old mare Verry Elleegant, who ran only fourth in the Turnbull Stakes last start, has been good enough to win at Group 1 level in every season since she was a three-year-old filly, accumulating nine majors and a Timeform rating of 123.

"Her record is certainly a lot better than it was at her first attempt in this race when she ran down the track behind Lys Gracieux," Crispe said.

"In 17 runs since she has been out of the first four just once when a closing seventh, set too much to do, in last year's Melbourne Cup over 3200m.

"Her clashes with international Group 1 winners Addeybb and Anthony Van Dyck represent great form for this.

"They show that, on her day, she is good enough to win the Cox Plate."

Zaaki heads Cox Plate betting and, like Verry Elleegant, he comes to The Valley needing to make amends for a plain run in his lead-up when third in The Might And Power.

"After a pair of soft wins, Zaaki was outpointed and left without excuses at Caulfield," Crispe said.

"Zaaki's Doomben Cup win produced a peak rating of 126 which would make him as likely as any here but he has been below that form in seven other runs which seem to better represent him.

"Although Zaaki has the higher peak rating, is the depth of Verry Eleegant's array of ratings that makes her the most appealing."

French import Gold Trip has been withdrawn from the Cox Plate after failing to pass a Racing Victoria veterinary examination on Friday.

Gold Trip was found to showing signs of lameness in the off-hind and off-fore leg, prompting trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace to withdrew the horse from The Valley race, reducing the Cox Plate field to nine starters.

You have to feel for Warwick Farm trainer Matthew Smith who had former Japanese Group 1 winner Keiai Nautique primed for the Cox Plate only for the Moonee Valley Race Club committee to leave the seven-year-old out of the race earlier this week.

All Machiavellian and Highly Desired have been selected in the final two slots for the inaugural $700,000 Four Pillars (1500m) on Golden Eagle Day at Rosehill Gardens on October 30.

TAB Fixed Odds price assessors have installed the Kim Waugh-trained Different Strokes as the $5 favourite ahead of Daralina Belle at $7 then another Waugh runner, Conrad, at $9.

Dufresne, who is contesting the $1 million Bondi Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday, is due to back up in the Four Pillars next week where he is on the fourth line of betting at $11.

There is expected to be emergencies announced when the Four Pillars final field and barrier draw is declared on Wednesday.


Online article taken from The Daily Telegraph, published on Friday, 22nd October 2021, Author, Ray Thomas.

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