Portelli dismisses She Will Reign doubts

Feb 28, 2017

Trainer Gary Portelli has hosed down theories that his unbeaten filly She Will Reign is vulnerable to a poor start, claiming it may not have been the filly's fault when last out of the gates in the Silver Slipper Stakes at her latest start.

A number of rival stables gained some confidence that the flying filly might be beatable after she appeared to blow the start in the Group 2 race at Rosehill, but Portelli told Racing.com that the Golden Slipper Stakes favourite's legs went from underneath her as the gates opened.

"You never like to see your horses miss the start, especially when they are favourite in big races but Ben (Melham) said he went back to the stewards after the race because they asked him to have a look at it (replay) and her back legs went from underneath her when the gates opened," Portelli said.

"So it may not have been her missing the start. At first I thought it was a situation where maybe she'd gone to sleep in the gates.

"I didn't get a chance to speak to Ben much straight after the race but he rang me that night and stewards showed him that her legs went from under her - she knuckled - and it probably looked worse than what it was because he actually eased her because he's got so much confidence in her that she'll just go through the gears when she needs to."

She Will Reign will run for a fourth-consecutive victory in Saturday's Riesling Stakes at Randwick and Portelli said she continues to thrive through her preparation.

"She's done really well," he said. "She only lost two kilos from the run last start. She's pretty cool and laid back."

Portelli said that while the Golden Slipper has always been a realistic target for She Will Reign, he still had some lingering doubts until her last performance when she overcame the poor start to win running away.

"She's always showed a lot of speed but with horses that fast you're always worried about them getting a little tired," he said.

"The big step up for me was the 1100 (metres) last start and to see her run through the line and have trouble pulling her up gave me more confidence.

"I'm at that level now where I go to the races I know I've got the horse. I just need some luck during the race and we should get a good result."

As for the pressure of training the favourite for the richest juvenile race in the world, Portelli said he's had worse.

"A lot of people have asked me 'how are you coping with the pressure?' and I just say I had a lot more pressure when I was trying to find one."

News from Andrew Eddy, Racing.com