It’s BOOM time

CHAU­TAUQUA TO PEAK FOR EVER­EST

The Sportsman Weekend - - Front Page - MATT JONES

IT’S time. The world’s rich­est race on turf, the $10m The TAB Ever­est (1200m) is at Royal Rand­wick to­mor­row.

A dozen of the best sprint­ers around have paid $600,000 a slot for a crack at al­most $6m to the win­ner.

Opin­ions are split just how it ought to be - but our money is on the cham­pion Chau­tauqaua to con­quer his Ever­est ri­vals and write name into his­tory as the in­au­gu­ral win­ner.

BOOM!

THIS time last year She Will Reign (pic­tured) was just an­other promis­ing filly in the Gary Portelli yard.

By to­mor­row af­ter­noon at Rand­wick she could have won her con­nec­tions more than $8m after the run­ning of The Ever­est (1200m).

“She’s prob­a­bly worth that as a brood­mare now so she’s changed some lives,” Portelli said.

It’s been some jour­ney for the $20,000 pur­chase.

She’s changed Portelli’s plans, and hopes, with ev­ery gal­lop since she first tri­alled at Rose­hill on Novem­ber 22.

That day she won the 900m trial by 5.3 lengths in 52.70.

Portelli was sit­ting on a boat on Syn­dey Har­bour for The Ever­est bar­rier draw, think­ing about how far the filly has come.

“It’s been a crazy ride and I re­mem­ber her first bar­rier trial like it was yes­ter­day,” he said. “We were out to have an easy trial and she won it by five and in­cred­i­ble time.”

Portelli was in Hong Kong with Rebel Dane when his filly had her first start at Kem­bla Grange on De­cem­ber 10.

He watched the race on his iPhone and she won by nine lengths and al­most equalled the course record.

“At that point I thought ‘well, I’ve got a fast horse here’, but we didn’t even think about the Slip­per un­til she won the Inglis Nurs­ery race,” he said.

She went on to win Golden Slip­per and sen­sa­tion­ally won the Moir Stakes first-up a few weeks ago, de­fy­ing not only his­tory but lead­ers bi­ased track at Mooney Val­ley.

“Ev­ery time we’ve put the bar up she’s cleared it,” Portelli said.

“There was a big ques­tion mark even though I happy with her be­fore the Moir.”

“I was pre­pared for the worst be­cause record books said we were up against it and she proved us all wrong again.”

Her only loss was in the Reis­ling Stakes where she found the worse part of the track to run sec­ond be­hind Frolic.

Con­sid­er­ing what she’s achieved in her six-start ca­reer, a case could be made that she’s the best filly since Miss Fin­land.

Portelli was happy with the com­par­i­son.

“At this stage it’s look­ing like that. Miss Fin­land was a very good horse so she’s got lot to live up to in that re­gard,” he said. “She’s come out of a Golden Slip­per and won Group 1, so she could be some­thing spe­cial and after this week­end we’ll know.”

She Will Reign will come out of gate two in to­mor­row’s Ever­est, which will suit her rac­ing style.

Corey Brown will po­si­tion her just off the speed, ex­pected to be cre­ated by Houtzen and De­ploy.

Portelli said she’s ready to defy the odds and beat the older, more sea­soned, sprint­ers once again.

“The con­fi­dence lev­els are pretty high. She’s just that sort of horse that gives you con­fi­dence and the way she worked on Tues­day morn­ing showed me she’s the horse to beat,” he said.

“She cov­ers ground, has a great turn of foot, is a pow­er­house and has a great set of lungs on her. She’s a ma­chine.” Portelli’s big worry is ev­ery other trainer’s big worry — fly­ing late Chau­tauqua. He’s won the past three TJ Smith Stakes and has quickly de­flated the hopes of a num­ber of other run­ners with his late surge. Portelli knows he’ll be flash­ing late. “Chau­tauqua no doubt is the big­gest threat, he’s a good horse on big days, but it’s still an even race,” he said.

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