It’s never easy to back up a maiden win but trainer Gary Portelli saw enough in the maiden success of Sky Diamonds to be confident the only way is up.
The three-year-old returns to the scene of that first career success in the Skin Fitness Handicap (1600m) at Hawkesbury on Thursday and Portelli said she’s a filly that’s starting to put things together.
“She has a lot of ability but things haven’t gone quite right on race day,’’ he said.
“It’s not bad rides but bad luck in running a couple of times, she didn’t really know how to come on.
“The other day it looked like the penny dropped and she controlled the speed and really quickened.
“It was good to see, stepping up to 1500m, her run it out solid. She has pulled up well and I’m looking forward to seeing her back up.’’
Sky Diamonds is a horse that Portelli regards as metropolitan class, certainly on what she shows him on the track in the early hours of the morning.
Robbie Dolan rides the filly, $3.90 favourite with TAB, on Thursday and Portelli said the section of her last start win that impressed him the most was the way she flattened out when asked to sprint.
“I just like the way she went about things, she got down low and accelerated,’’ he said.
“That’s something I hadn’t seen on race day, we see it at trackwork a lot. She’s progressive and just a really nice filly.’’
Stablemate Test Of War is also chasing back-to-back Hawkesbury wins in the Blakes Marine Handicap (1500m) though Portelli will likely have his eyes closed over the last 50m if he’s in front.
The gelding, $2.80 favourite with TAB, led all the way to win over the same course on October 24 and with the claim for Tom Sherry he’ll carry 1kg less.
“He loves that track. He’s a front running type of horse, he’ll be up there and he will get every chance,’’ Portelli said.
“If it was 1490m I’d be more confident but he’s fit and looks enormous, he seems to have come on since the run.’’
In the feature Listed $150,000 Lander Toyota Ladies’ Day Cup (1600m) the Portelli stable’s warhorse Testashadow has his first start at Hawkesbury since placing in the 2017 Hawkesbury Cup.
The eight-year-old ran third at his latest start at Eagle Farm and while he is an $8 chance with TAB the trainer is a bit more hopeful than confident at this level.
“He’s probably best placed north but there’s nothing up there for him at the moment,’’ he said.
“He’s gone well previously at Hawkesbury, he ran third in a Hawkesbury Cup once and if he reproduced that form he’d be thereabouts.’’
– Racing NSW