The next chapter of the successful partnership between Gary Portelli’s stable and Laurel Oak Bloodstock is begging to be written by superbly bred debutant Picaro at Randwick on Saturday.
Pierro’s strapping two-year-old son will contest the Tab Handicap (1200m) after an impressive trial, with Portelli eyeing off a start in the rich Karaka Million at Ellerslie Racecourse on January 28 should Picaro impress this weekend.
Picaro is out of group 3-winning mare Sookie, and Portelli is hopeful the link with Laurel Oak will deliver his yard more success following the recent retirement of their most successful venture, Rebel Dane.
He was a two-time group 1 winner and, while hoping to follow in his footsteps might be a tad ambitious, Portelli said Picaro had enough ability to carve his own reputation at the race track following his second to Burbank in a pre-Christmas trial.
“The winner of Waller’s is a pretty good horse,” Portelli said.
“There’s a big rap on him apparently, the winner of the trial, they like him a lot, he’s got ability. We’re looking forward at seeing [Picaro] run on Saturday.
“Our guy has always shown ability, out of a good mare Sookie, fantastic family.
“He’s got a good [pedigree] page, he was bought in New Zealand by Louis Mihalyka from Laurel Oak Bloodstock and we’ve had a lot of luck with Louis over the years.
“This bloke will go to New Zealand for the Karaka two-year-old race if he was to win this race or run second, he’d qualify to get into that million-dollar race at the end of January, so we’ll see how we go Saturday.”
Warwick Farm-based Portelli will unleash several two-year-old debutants in the coming weeks as he declares his hand for this year’s Golden Slipper, which he won last year with She Will Reign.
He rates Golden Gift (1100m) winner Secret Lady as the best of his juveniles so far this year, while Perfect Pitch, a Pierro filly also raced by Laurel Oak, won a race at Rosehill last month.
“Secret Lady’s probably the one that’s the best of them at the moment but we’ve had a few trial probably in the last week or so that go all right,” Portelli said.
“Next few weeks we’ll hopefully unearth something.
“I particularly like to train the two and three-year-olds, I put a lot of time into their programs and their preparations and their feed and the trackwork riders put a lot of work into educating them properly and having them do everything right on race day.
“It goes a long way, particularly if you’ve got a horse that’s bred to be [a performer at] two, you’ve got to make sure you give them every opportunity to race.
“With a bigger stable you probably can’t because you’ve got too many older horses in your stable. We’ve got two and three-year-olds but not too many older horses.”
Meanwhile, She Will Reign will resume in the Inglis Sprint (1100m) at Warwick Farm on February 10 before heading to Caulfield to contest the $500,000 group 1 Oakleigh Plate.
She hasn’t raced since failing in the Everest.