Portelli Thunders Into Randwick With In-Form Mares

It’s not ideal to have two in-form stablemates clashing but trainer Gary Portelli can’t deny both Nicci’s Fling and Arctic Thunder appear well placed at Randwick on Saturday.

Portelli said the four-year-old mares are hard to split in the UNSW Handicap (1400m).


However, with Nicci’s Fling being third-up and Arctic Thunder coming off a big first-up win he feels it may be the former that could be better suited as the latter is the one needing to replicate a potential peak while rising in grade.


“The race suits both horses so we throw two at the stumps instead of one,’’ Portelli said.


“I’m not sure where they get to from the gates. No doubt Nicci’s Fling can roll and (Arctic Thunder) can be midfield somewhere.


“Arctic Thunder got back last start because she drew wide and we had to ride her accordingly otherwise she was never going to get in.”


Nicci’s Fling has finished third in both starts this preparation including her last start when beaten half a length by Shihonka under 60.5kg.


The Warwick Farm trainer said the appointment of emerging 3kg claiming apprentice Reece Jones on Saturday, to offset the same impost, is a huge boost to her chances.


“I think the weight beat her last time, she had them cold at the top of the straight but she couldn’t go on with it,’’ he said.

“You could see her getting heavy legs so with the claim she gets in well.”


The Portelli pair headed TAB betting on Thursday with Nicci’s Fling the $4.60 favourite and Arctic Thunder at $5.50 on the back of her impressive Midway win two weeks ago.


Arctic Thunder maintained her unbeaten first-up record when she produced a slick 33.06 for the last 600m (Punter’s Intelligence) in that win but she remains winless second-up from a spell.


Portelli said that remains a small query but he’s seen plenty of positive signs at home to say she’s come through the run bouncing and is ready to be tested up in class.


“I’m mindful of the fact her run first-up was such a big run, she had to pull out all stops to win, and whether that might have taken a bit out of her,’’ he said.


“You never know until you race them, but you’d have to say looking at the way she did it she’s gone to a new level this time through.”


The trainer is excited about Rebel Dane filly Fireburn stepping up in distance in the TAB Supports National Jockeys Trust Handicap (1200m) after a promising debut on her home track.


He was concerned that she would find 1100m too short for her and that turned out to be the case as she ran on into fourth behind California Deeply beaten under a length.


“I really like this filly, I thought she was unlucky first-up,'' he said.

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