Eye-catching filly ready for Randwick test

Having assembled a strong stable of gallopers, Gary Portelli is confident his five engaged runners are all more than capable of seriously threatening in their respective contests at Randwick on Saturday.

Perhaps Portelli’s most exciting hope for the weekend appears in the first event of the day as Fireburn contests the two-year-old National Jockey Trust Handicap (1200m).

After what was an eye-catching finish on debut, the filly steps out a further 100m for her second-up assignment.

With in-form rider Jason Collett hopping aboard and from a favourable draw, Portelli is believes the daughter of Rebel Dane is set for a bold showing.

“I like the filly, I think it’s a nice race for her,” Portelli said.

“It was a good effort (debut run). She had to take off early and make a long run and she never stopped trying to the line.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way she’s come on and she’s no doubt a great chance tomorrow.”

Although drawn poorly in barrier 13 and admittedly going to need a touch of luck to feature in the finish, Portelli’s Midway runner Hollywood Gossip is another who profiles strongly.

“If she drew a soft gate I would’ve been pretty confident with her chances, but as we know with barriers – bad barriers lose races,” Portelli said.

“We’ve got J Mac (James Mcdonald) on, so hopefully he can weave some magic.

“It is 1200m at Randwick, so you’ve a little bit more of a chance to get in.

“She’s a nice little filly and I think she’s a nice chance, but it’s just the barrier that has me a bit concerned.”

In Race 6, two of Portelli’s candidates will confront each other over 1400m in the UNSW Handicap.

Third-up from a spell, Portelli’s ultra-consistent four-year-old Nicci’s Fling is an early favourite for the race. While thrilled with her performances thus far, Portelli acknowledges a softer track is more to the liking of the Nicconi mare.

“She’s been great for us. She was a cheap little filly that we didn’t pay a lot of money for,” Portelli said.

“She’s grown into a beautiful mare. She gets the claim and I think she’s a great chance over the 1400m.

“I do like her chances more so when it is wet though, I think she does excel when the track is a bit softer, but she’s third-up tomorrow and she’s ready to go.”

Stablemate and race rival Arctic Thunder will be looking to make it back-to-back wins after returning impressively a fortnight ago, swooping late on the outside over 1300m at Rosehill.

“It was a massive run. We sort of expected her to run well, but the barrier had us worried” Portelli said.

“I think she went to a new level that day, but obviously against this company she has to go to another level again.”

The last of Portelli’s quintet is his ever-reliable six-year-old gelding Above And Beyond.

Going down narrowly two-back at Kembla Grange before a sticking on gamely for fourth at the last time out, Portelli is convinced the son of Sebring can return to his best form on the firmer footing.

“He’s a top three or four chance for sure,” Portelli said.

“With a little bit of time in between gallops, he just needed the run the other day.

“The mile certainly won’t worry him and dry track suits; he ticks the right boxes.

Currently rated a Good 4 and no rain forecasted, the rail is out three metres the course entire.

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