Gary Portelli sweating on the barrier gods

She was the champion two-year-old last year but the Gary Portelli-trained Fireburn has yet to produce that juvenile form in two preparations since.

While not being disgraced against top company in all five runs this racing season, the Rebel Dane filly has been a victim of hard tracks and wide barriers and Portelli is hoping for a change of luck if she is to run in the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes at Rosehill this Saturday.

Her two outings this campaign have seen her draw gate nine of 12 in the Group 2 Light Fingers (sixth beaten 1.8L) and gate 13 of 13 in the Group 1 Surround (ninth beaten 3L) but Portelli is praying to fare much better once acceptances are released tomorrow morning.

“If she doesn’t draw a decent barrier for a change then we’re probably not going to run her,” Portelli said.

“She draws a wide gate in a big field and it’s going to be a cricket pitch on the weekend, then I think we’ve just got to be patient.

“Going back on her and just giving her absolutely no hope. On a dry track when you’ve got to get home in 33 (seconds), it’s hard to give fast horses six or eight lengths start on conditions that don’t suit you.

“We’re hoping that over the 1500m from a good gate we’d be able to possie up a little bit closer and give us some chance to show up.”

Boasting an impeccable record on Heavy surfaces with three wins and a second from five attempts, Portelli isn’t ruling out extending her campaign into May and June up north.

“We were hoping to get a wet autumn and head towards some of the best races in Australia,” Portelli said.

“But we’re in drought conditions at the moment and things just haven’t gone to plan.

“I’ll look after her, I don’t think there’s any rush to retire her. We’ve got a winter in Queensland we can look forward to.

“You can’t pay for patience, but you’ll pay if you’re not.”

The Warwick Farm-based conditioner will also line up stable stalwart Above And Beyond in the Benchmark 78 over 1900m and Portelli has marvelled at how the seven-year-old continues to show up on race day.

“He’s found a new lease now getting out to a bit of a trip,” Portelli said.

“You never know with him, since we start thinking that we’ve found our mark he comes out and wins another one.”

A winner of eight races and over $540,000 in earnings, Portelli wasn’t always sure the Sebring gelding was going to make the grade as a race horse.

“I backed him at Kembla Grange at his first start and did my dough,” Portelli lamented.

“I thought ‘that’ll do me’, but he’s gone on to win half a million.

“He’s a funny horse it just depends what mood he’s in, but gee he’s been good to us.”

Rosehill Gardens plays host to a bumper ten race card this weekend with the feature being the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic over 1500m.

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