Portelli feels Time is right to turn silver into gold
THEY say sometimes you have to lose one to win one.
Trainer Gary Portelli became a firm believer in that old sporting adage after Time To Reign rebounded from a shock loss to thrash some high-profile rivals in the Group 2 $250,000 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Portelli, acknowledged as a master trainer of juveniles, was all smiles after the race, in contrast to the disappointment he felt after Time To Reign lost his unbeaten record when unplaced in the Lonhro Plate at his previous start.
"I couldn't get much more deflated than I was after the Warwick Farm defeat,'' Portelli said.
"Time To Reign was the $1.60 favourite that day, I expected him to win, the punters expected him to win.
"But he's a young horse and he did a lot wrong. It is amazing how many times a two-year-old can do the wrong thing on their home track.
"They get brave and want to get it over and done with quickly.
"I think back on it now and I'm sure that defeat toughened him up for today on the soft track.
"When he balanced up and let rip, he showed what a nice horse he is.''
Time To Reign ($11), ridden by Jason Collett, unleashed a brilliant burst of acceleration to win by 2¼ lengths from Tassort ($1.85 favourite), with more than three lengths to Born A Warrior ($10).
Tassort was first-up from a spell and on a soft track so it wasn't surprising he didn't lose any admirers despite his defeat.
He remains the $4.50 favourite with Ladbrokes to win the $3.5 million Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 23.
Time To Reign, who had been the Golden Slipper favourite earlier in the season, is right back in favour again, firming into $10.
The Portelli-trained colt is now on target to emulate former stablemate and half sister She Will Reign, who won the Silver Slipper-Golden Slipper double two years ago.
"When I left home for trackwork this morning, I looked at the Golden Slipper trophy I won with She Will Reign and got fired up for today,'' Portelli said.
"I'd love to win another Slipper trophy and I think I have the right horse to do that now.
"There's a bit of deja vu about this colt.''
Time To Reign has won three of his four starts and his Silver Slipper win guarantees him a start in the Golden Slipper.
But Collett said Saturday's race didn't go exactly to plan, although Time To Reign was still able to demonstrate his class for a dominant win.
"He wasn't the quickest out of the barrier and then he got a bit of a bump,'' Collett said. "Then he got into a nice spot and was comfortable but at the 600m they really started to run along.
"He took a few strides to get going but then he picked up and on the turn, I was watching McLaren and thought 'I have got you covered'.
"When he sprinted, he had put them away quickly, but I'm thinking he is better chasing.''
Portelli said Time To Reign would race next in the Group 2 Todman Stakes to fine-tune his Golden Slipper preparation.
"I watched him closely after the race to check his breathing was good and he wasn't making any noise - recovery is everything,'' Portelli said.
"If we have a heavy track for the Golden Slipper we will know we have the fittest horse.''