A capacity field of Stradbroke Handicap hopefuls...
Gary Portelli’s gun filly She Will Reign did enough first-up at Warwick Farm on Saturday to salute for the punters in the 2018 Inglis Sprint ahead of a big autumn campaign.
The dual Group 1 winning daughter of Manhattan Rain was having her first official start since failing to get within five and a half-lengths of Redzel during her disappointing 11th in the $10 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 14.
With just the one lead-up trial at The Farm from mid-January, the three-year-old started She Wodds-on favourite in the lucrative $250,000 Inglis Sprint (1100m) at Breeders Classic Day in her campaign kick-off.
She Will Reign faced just the six rivals in the set weights sprint after the notable scratching of the flying Nature Strip and that changed the dynamics of the race.
Jockey Ben Melham took no chances on the Golden Slipper winning filly and in a move that surprised a few punters, She Will Reign was prominent early and took the lead from Diamond Tathagata.
“We hadn’t have gone anywhere near the lead had Nature Strip run,” winning trainer Portelli admitted post-win.
A horse that is better chasing, circumstances forced the $1.24 top fancy into the lead with Melham trying to contain her speed up front.
Still up front at the turn for home, She Will Reign moved into the wider part of the track once on the straight as Limbo Soul moved up her inside looking to challenge.
The favourite was nicely clear of her rivals, including the brave Brad Widdup-trained Acqume ($13) who eventually ran a half-length second in her first run of the season just ahead of the third-placed Limbo Soul ($11) for Tim Martin.
She Will Reign was softened up early in the race but got it done from both ends in a big effort going all-the-way ahead of an exciting preparation.
“I didn’t want to bottom her out today,” Melham said.
“I had to do a little bit more on her than what I wanted first-up…but it’s always nice to see these fillies come back.
“She’s just a very intelligent race horse.
“She’s very special to me and hopefully the association can continue.”
Having gotten the resuming run out of the road, she is now set to head south for the Melbourne Festival of Racing.
Portelli said he and Melham were in discussions about a possible seven day back-up at Flemington on February 17 with the filly’s jockey keen to give her another go at the track in the weight-for-age Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m).
With Redzel the one to beat there however, Portelli is more eager to save She Will Reign for a Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day run at Caulfield on February 24 in the Group 1 $500,000 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) despite the chance of a hefty weight allocation in the handicap clash.
“I think the Oakleigh Plate is a far better race for her,” Portelli said.
“I think she’s probably a better horse when she’s chasing and a fast-run Oakleigh Plate would be better than taking on Redzel and those other horses down the straight.”
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