In the countdown to the $10 million Everest at Randwick, trainer Gary Portelli has reflected on what might have been had Darby Racing not sent She Will Reign his way.
The Golden Slipper-winning filly ended up at Portelli’s Warwick Farm stable when her original trainer Michael Costa relocated to the Gold Coast.
“Mark Newnham and I got horses from the Darby boys, Mark got the one that won at Hawkesbury and mine won everything,” Portelli said.
She Will Reign made her season return with another Group One win in the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley and is now one of the favourites for the world’s richest race on turf on Saturday.
Drawing barrier two in the 12-horse field has aided the star three-year-old’s cause on Saturday, yet a grey cloud has descended in the form of three-time TJ Smith Stakes winner Chautauqua.
Although Chautauqua hasn’t been placed in both starts this campaign he has recorded the quickest closing sectional times in The Shorts and Premiere Stakes.
“I don’t think anyone should be counting their chickens as they get to the 50 (metres) because their hearts have been broken on a few occasions in the TJ Smith,” Portelli said.
“I’d like to be a long way in front of him coming over the rise because he’ll be coming for sure.”
Portelli also rated the threats posed by the on-speed Redzel and English.
“You could probably run it four times and get four different winners,” he said.
She Will Reign was designated an Everest favourite after her stunning finish to the Moir Stakes emphasised a versatility that first emerged at Rosehill in February.
“When she missed the start in the Silver Slipper she showed she could come off their backs. We’d been doing a lot of work at trackwork teaching her to follow horses and run them down,” Portelli said.
“It showed she had that string to her bow.”
Despite her adaptable racing pattern, Portelli said a smooth run was a necessity for Corey Brown to beat Australia’s leading sprinters to the $5.8 million winners’ cheque aboard a horse that cost $20,000.
“I think the race will sort itself out in the first 200 metres and then you’ve just got to sit there and hope you’ve got something at the furlong,” he said.
“You wouldn’t want to be seeing your jockey circling them at the 600.”
Regardless of the outcome She Will Reign’s connections are on the trip of a lifetime.
“There’s a lot of first-time owners. There’s guys that have had horses before and had no luck. She’s changed a lot of lives,” Portelli said.