The combination of a favourable draw, a little bit of rain around, a jockey on a high and a step up in distance has trainer Gary Portelli confident last year’s Golden Slipper winner Fireburn will have her best chance to get back on top at Rosehill on Saturday.
Since her celebrated two-year-old season there have been no favours handed to the filly but Portelli senses the tide is turning going into the Group 1 $600,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).
The trainer is adamant that Fireburn hasn’t run a bad race all season and after her last start fourth in the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m), on a good 3, was convinced she’s in good form and only needs a break go her way.
So after gates seven of nine, 15 of 16, nine of 10, nine of 12, 13 of 13 and nine of nine he said five of 13 in the Vinery will give Fireburn every opportunity to post her first win since the Group 1 Inglis Sires’ last year.
“Over 2000m there’s no reason why she can’t be in that sweet spot,’’ Portelli said.
“More than likely she’s going to be close to the first quarter of the field and I’m sure she’ll run the 2000m.
“She’s just so relaxed and these class horses can get out to 2000m, we’re just hoping for a bit more rain. Just a softish track will be all right.”
Frustrated by the spate of wide gates, Portelli elected to change tactics in the Phar Lap and go forward – unfortunately the filly wasn’t the quickest away.
But Tyler Schiller elected to put her in the race and she eventually wound up outside the leader Glint Of Silver. Portelli said working overtime was never going to leave her strong at the finish but was proud of how she fought on to run fourth beaten 2-1/2 lengths.
“When she missed the start we stuck to the plan and kept going around the field,’’ he said.
“When you’re making up ground down the back straight and that quickly you’d have to think if we jumped on terms with them and used that speed you’d be in front by two or three lengths.
“So she used a lot of petrol to get to where she was. She travelled beautifully, she didn’t sprint but just grinded solidly.
“She ran out a solid 1500m and now we can step her up with that run under her belt.”
Portelli was more than happy to retain Schiller for the ride, especially in the wake of his Group 1 breakthrough in The Galaxy on Golden Slipper Day.
The reigning champion apprentice also partnered Fireburn in her second career win.
“I think he’s the best rider in Sydney outside of JMac at the moment,’’ Portelli said.
“I think this kid is riding out of this world. I love it when they’ve won their first Group 1 and I’d be pretty happy if he can ride another one this weekend.”
Kiwi trainer Lance Noble said on Sky Sports Radio his filly Polygon has come on since her first-up sixth behind Pavitra at Kembla Grange two weeks ago.
The filly was a dual stakes winner back home over the summer at a mile and 2000m and Noble, like Portelli, would like to see some give in the ground at Rosehill.
“She’s done well since her run in the Kembla Grange Classic and we’re hoping for a drop of rain which I think will bring her right into it,’’ he said.
“It was a pass mark but I’m happy with her progress since.
“Her couple of stakes wins in New Zealand were quite impressive, especially the last one but it’s a big step up to come here.”
– Racing NSW