Gary Portelli knows a good start in Saturday’s CS Hayes Stakes 2015 will be crucial for Testashadow if the three-year-old is to handle the test and kick off his Australian Guineas bid with a win.
The Warwick Farm-based Portelli has the Testa Rossa gelding racing in Melbourne for the first time this weekend at Flemington Racecourse in the $150,000 Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m).
One of 13 remaining colts and geldings in the mix with Kermadec to run in Sydney’s Hobartville Stakes instead, Testashadow is drawn in barrier five with Dean Yendall to ride.
The latest CS Hayes Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by the undefeated Lucky Liberty ($5) who is also the close $9 second pick behind Caulfield Guineas winner Shooting To Win ($8), another Hobartville hope at Rosehill on Saturday, in the early odds for the $1 million Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) back at Flemington on March 7.
Testashadow meanwhile pays $19 to win on Saturday in an upset and is even longer in the futures Australian Guineas betting markets at a roughie’s price of $67.
A winner of two of his 10 starts to date, the galloper was last seen backing up off a 1400m Rosehill win in December when second behind Deiheros in the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas over the same distance at the Gold Coast on January 10.
His performance in that Queensland feature was what convinced Portelli to target the Australian Guineas with Testashadow this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
Forced to go back from his wide barrier 12 of 16 draw, Testashadow raced near the tail of the field throughout and remained third last on the turn for home before what Portelli describes as an “enormous” run to make up late ground and cross just two lengths off the Rick McMahon-ridden winner.
“He walked out of the gates in the Magic Millions and with the short run to the first turn, the only thing he (jockey Tim Clark) could do was take him right back,” Portelli told Racenet.
“To circle the whole field and run second was an enormous run.
“I thought if I could look after him and get him right, I’d like to have a crack at the Australian Guineas because it just might be open enough for a horse like him to get into it.”
Testashadow’s Guineas bid begins in earnest on Saturday but he can’t afford to be as slow out of the gates in the CS Hayes as he was on the Gold Coast last month.
To help him with his post-jump concentration, Portelli trialled him at Warwick Farm on February 9 where he got away from the gates well before finishing second behind the imported Godolphin-owned Hartnell over 1200m.
“His trial was enormous actually, we just wanted him to have an easy trial, which he did but I was really impressed with him,” Portelli said.
“The main thing was he jumped well, which is something he didn’t do in the Magic Millions.
“Missing the start can become a habit with some horses but we were happy to see that it doesn’t look like that will happen with him.”
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