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Portelli Gives The Empire A Chance To Strike Again

There’s no denying that up and coming three-year-old The Empire has surprised trainer Gary Portelli this preparation but he sees no reason why his rise can’t continue at Rosehill on Saturday.

The Empire was an impressive all the way winner under 58.5kg in a Benchmark 64 at Warwick Farm, on a heavy track, back on June 14 and Portelli said he will need a PB to make it three straight in the Cleanaway Handicap (1300m).

But he also said he expects a PB and with another wet track assured the gelding will get his chance to measure up to the Benchmark 72 level.

“I don’t know where his ceiling is so this will be a good test for him,’’ Portelli said.

“It’s a handy race but he’s improving and I’ve seen improvement since the last run physically. He’s going to get conditions to suit.

“It’s probably a quantum leap from last start to this one class wise but he’s sharp and working brilliantly and in the right headspace.”

Brenton Avdulla rides The Empire ($6 with TAB on Thursday), with Reece Jones taking a break from the city and riding in the non-Greater Sydney zone at present, and Portelli said the extra 0.5kg doesn’t concern him.

How Tommy Berry decides to ride the favourite Tycoonist could have a bearing on The Empire’s chances but otherwise he said the horse comes up in class on the back of a very positive experience.

“I thought we found a pretty weak race at Warwick Farm, he was well placed,’’ he said.

“It was a perfect race for him, he got to canter along at his own tempo and quicken when he wanted.

“We’ll make up our mind on how we ride him after we see the scratchings on Saturday. I’m not concerned about the weight it is just the class factor.”

Portelli is hoping the decision to tackle a tougher race with a light weight will pay off with honest mare Ruby Tuesday in the Lynette Pamphee Memorial Handicap (1500m).

The mare was dual accepted for the XXXX Handicap (1400m) against the mares but the lure of 52kg on a rain affected track prompted him to take on the Benchmark 88 against the boys.

Of course 10 per cent of management, training fees and prizemoney earned by Ruby Tuesday is donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation - hence the pink ribbon on her silks.

Part owners Laurel Bloodstock announced on Wednesday that so far she has contributed a total of $25,565.73, $13,023.77 of that coming in the financial year just ended.

Portelli readied the mare for Saturday’s assignment with some barrier practice on Thursday morning and he says how she jumps is vital to her getting the best possible result.

“We put her through the gates to keep her head in the right place as far as beginning,’’ he said.

“It all comes down to the start, if she jumps well I believe she can win. If she jumps poorly it’ll be a dog’s breakfast.

“She should jump well from the gate and should be tracking Canasta. If she can get past him she wins the race.”

Ruby Tuesday ($10) raced wide at her latest start when finishing a close fourth behind Seentoomany at Randwick back on June 12.


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