Portelli pair sizzles in Warwick Farm juvenile trials

Warwick Farm hosted four 2-year-old trials last Tuesday morning, and each but one occurred on the turf track over 796 metres. The fastest was knocked off in 46.93s when local trainer Gary Portelli landed a close quinella between winner Malabar (Dissident) and stablemate Tenderize (Snitzel).


Just 0.1l separated the pair on the line, and they pulled well clear of the rest of the field. The Bjorn Baker-trained Shalaa Magic (Shalaa {Ire}) was 3.24l away in third.


At the bounce, Malabar was away quickest out wide, with Tenderize pulling up alongside him on the rail. The two horses went around the bend in that order and, into the straight, Tenderize had the lead until the 200 metres, after which the gelding Malabar was going better.


With Alysha Collett aboard, Malabar had plenty left going to the line, while Tenderize was hustled along by jockey Rachel King in what proved to be tactical instructions by Gary Portelli.


“I like to see them put under race pressure at their second trial,” the trainer said, speaking to TDN AusNZ. “With their first trial, I like to give them a very easy one, and for the second, I like to give them a little more, particularly when they haven’t been quite up to expectations in their first trial.”


Both Malabar and Tenderize were stepping out for the second time on Tuesday, with the winner beaten close to 13l in his first effort on November 3, while Tenderize was sixth in the same trial.


“I just wanted to open them up a little more, and put them under pressure where they’re asked to stretch out,” Portelli said. “Sometimes they can win a trial, or trial really well, on the bit, and when they let their head go in a race, they don’t know how to react and how to stretch, how to get down and really push out.


"So while they can look good when you’ve got a hold of them, they might not have much left. They learn a lot more this way.”


Malabar is owned by a Darby Racing syndicate, which purchased the gelding as a weanling colt from Segenhoe Stud at the 2020 Inglis Digital May Sale. He cost $22,500.


First dam Malpara is a winning Snitzel mare and a three-quarter sister to two stakes winners, namely My Sister Lil (Snitzel) and Ygritte (Snitzel). This is a strong family through Tycoon Lil (Last Tycoon {Ire}), who was New Zealand’s Champion 3-Year-Old and Horse of the Year in the season 1997/98.


Segenhoe sold Malpara at this year’s Inglis Digital June Sale, where she was picked up for $11,000 by Sandhurst Bloodstock. She had a weanling colt by Shalaa(Ire) sell at the Magic Millions National Weanling Sale this year for $15,000, where he was picked up by Carrington Park Stud.


Now a yearling, that colt is headed to Book 2 of the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, with Carrington Park Principal Peter Beaumann confirming he’s a very nice horse, even in these early days.


Portelli, meanwhile, picked up a fire cracker in Malabar.


“He was a bit of a bully colt, so we had to geld him early, and he’s still a bit of a bully,” Portelli said. “He’s one of those horses that thinks he’s good, so he’s got a bit of an attitude. He’s that young bloke that you see on the dance floor, the kind that would be pretty lost without a mirror in the place.”


The trainer said there’s ability in Malabar, despite a poor effort in the horse’s first trial. Even that, however, didn’t affect Portelli’s opinion because he knew the gelding was green and would overcome it.


“I knew he’d bounce out of that and learn a bit from it, and he’s improved dramatically from that trial to today,” he said. “Today’s trial was probably good enough to keep him in the city first-up, so I’ll probably keep him going and give the other fellow (Tenderize) a freshen up.”


Portelli said second-placed Tenderize was a very different horse altogether, with that colt much more an autumn prospect for the 2-year-old purses. He didn’t expect to get anything more from the horse this preparation.


“I’d expect Tenderize will train off after that effort,” Portelli said. “Whereas the other fella, knowing him being so tough and having had a few more preps, he’s ready to go to the races.”

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