Portelli calls for 2YO calendar shake-up

By: Mandy Cottell Monday 30 November 2020

Golden Slipper-winning trainer Gary Portelli has called for more second tier two-year-old races to be scheduled during the late spring and summer in Sydney.

Portelli says a dearth of juvenile events at the midweek and provincial level is resulting in trainers putting their youngsters in the spelling paddock, rather than blooding them.

The metropolitan schedule has also been light with seven two-year-old races held in town since the start of the juvenile racing season on October 3.

Portelli says the current structure limits the chances to qualify horses for the Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast in January.

"It is so hard to get two-year-olds up to Brisbane now. We've lost a couple of two-year-old races this season already and to get horses qualified, it's a nightmare," Portelli said.

"We don't like to be pressuring our horses as it is but with the lack of racing, you feel like you've got pressure on you because you buy these horses at the Magic Millions with a vision for your owners to be racing in the Magic Millions in January.

"You've got to get qualified but you don't want to be pushing them and putting them in races when they're not ready, or throwing them in the deep end straight away."

Portelli pointed to the recent decision by fellow Warwick Farm trainer Annabel Neasham to take Ghostwriter to Brisbane for his debut.

The colt won and earned enough prize money to put him in a strong position for Magic Millions qualification.

"You saw Annabel took that horse to Brisbane to win the race up there and that's an option we need to start looking at if they're not going to put races on in Sydney," Portelli said.

"(We also need) more two-year-old races provincially and midweek. If they're not a top level horse, why am I going to run them against horses getting ready for a Golden Slipper or a Magic Millions and ruin them?"

No provincial two-year-old races have been held in NSW so far this season and the first will be run at Newcastle on Tuesday.

The situation is a catch-22 with racing administrators arguing there is not enough appetite from trainers to run their youngsters before Christmas.

However, Portelli believes many babies would have one trial and head to the races if the events were there.

The Warwick Farm horseman, who won the 2017 Golden Slipper with She Will Reign, is hoping to have a small team for the Magic Millions Gold Coast carnival on January 16, led by Starlight Stakes runner-up Spaceboy.