Portelli ponders shot at Golden Rose
DIO D'Oro has given trainer Gary Portelli reason to be ambitious, while Silent Explorer left his trainer David Payne frustrated and wondering what might have been.
The juvenile opener at Royal Randwick on Saturday - the Living Turf Handicap (1200m) - was a compelling, controversial race, with Dio D'Oro underlining his emerging talent with a tough win.
This was a win under duress as Dio D'Oro was taken right off the track by wayward early leader Silent Explorer. The two-year-olds charged up the straight in two divisions - Rio De Janeiro, Beidi and King's Trust near the inside rail as Silent Explorer took the rest of the field towards the outside fence.
Portelli has taken his young family on holidays to America and was at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on Saturday as Dio D'Oro scored his second win from as many starts this campaign.
The master trainer of two-year-olds - Dio D'Oro is among eight individual juvenile winners of 11 races from the Portelli stable this season - suggested via text message that the promising colt could develop into a Golden Rose contender in the spring.
Dio D'Oro ($3.90 favourite) forged clear near the line to win by a length from Marmaris ($7) with the erratic Silent Explorer ($6.50) a close third.
Jay Ford, rider of fourth placegetter Knight Arrow, lodged a protest against Silent Explorer for interference from the top of the straight.
Racing NSW stewards agreed that Silent Explorer's waywardness had impacted Knight Arrow but dismissed the protest as they could not be "reasonably satisfied" Ford's mount would have finished in front of the minor placegetter.
Payne maintained Silent Explorer would have won the race if his youngster had gone straight.
"He would have won by three lengths,'' Payne said.
"But he is his own worst enemy at the moment. We will give him a break now and try to work him out. He's got the ability, we just have to teach him to race.''
Dio D'Oro's rider, Sydney's leading apprentice Rachel King, revealed she had intended to take the colt out wide in search of better going from the turn - just not that wide!
"I didn't plan to end up near the outside running rail,'' King said. "The other horse (Silent Explorer) kept taking us out but it didn't bother my colt.
"He's a really progressive horse, he keeps improving and he ran that out really strongly today.
"Gary was worried about him being a bit keen today but he switched off beautifully in behind them and in time should be able to get out over a little further.''
Portelli stable representative Loren Wadsworth said Dio D'Oro has returned a more furnished racehorse this campaign.
"Dio D'Oro has always shown a bit of promise but needed to strengthen up on his first racing preparation,'' Wadsworth said.
"But he has really impressed us this time, he hasn't put a foot wrong. He is by Medaglia D'Oro and watching how he finished the race off for Rachel, he could get out over further.''
Dio D'Oro was King's 35th city success this season, giving her a six-win lead over nearest rival Jean Van Overmeire in the Sydney apprentices' premiership with 10 meetings remaining in the 2017-18 season.
Smith eyes Winter Cup
PLYMOUTH Road is likely to back-up in the Listed $125,000 Winter Cup after a dominant all-the-way win at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer Matthew Smith said provided Plymouth Road pulled up well from his win in the Evergreen Turf Handicap (2400m) there was every likelihood the stayer would race again next Saturday.
"He has been building up to that win,'' Smith said.
"We got the right conditions today, a wet track and 2400m. He was perfectly ridden by Adam (Hyeronimus), he controlled the race and got going at the right time.
"This is his time of the year so we have to make the most of it. He is rock-hard fit so we will definitely look at the Winter Cup at Rosehill next week.''
Plymouth Road ($5) was never seriously challenged and scored by 2½ lengths from a game Only Tiger ($5), with nearly four lengths to favourite Solo Mission ($4). Hyeronimus said Plymouth Road wanted to go a little fiercely early but soon settled into a nice rhythm.
"I gradually increased the tempo from the half mile (800m) and we were at our top from the 500m,'' Hyeronimus said. "He was very strong through the line.''
Plymouth Road is raced by Terry Henderson's OTI Syndicate, which has plans to send Smith a recently purchased French stayer to train.