Lighthorseman to resume on Saturday
Now that Lighthorseman’s physical problems have been sorted out, trainer Gary Portelli is working overtime on the four-year-old’s mental side.
A $900,000 yearling, Lighthorseman is the most expensive horse Portelli has trained, and the most challenging.
His career has been restricted to just five starts due mainly to a throat operation which sidelined him for many months.
He sole win came in a maiden at Hawkesbury almost a year ago with his latest racetrack appearance a disaster when he tossed apprentice Nathan Berry at Randwick in October.
Berry is undaunted and will be back aboard on Saturday when Lighthorseman resumes over 1100 metres in a Benchmark 80 handicap.
"I’m trying something different by sending him into the race without a trial," Portelli said.
"I’m hoping that by keeping him fresh that will help.
"He is getting cunning and doesn’t like being pushed around so you have to kid to him.
"I know how good he is and what he does at trackwork, he just hasn’t put it together on raceday.
"Nathan has done all the work with him and knows him very well.
"The biggest problem is to make sure he doesn’t get to the front too early because once he gets his head in front he just pulls up.
"He does it whether it’s the 300 or the 20 metre mark so he needs to be held up and the run timed just right."
Portelli is still celebrating the win of Gold Trail in Saturday’s Group One Railway Stakes in Auckland but says he always thought Lighthorseman was going to be his next topliner after Rena’s Lady won the 2007 AJC Australian Oaks.
"I thought Lighthorseman would be my next Group One winner," he said.
"It’s been very frustrating to say the least.
"I know there’s a good win in him and for the owners’ sakes I hope we can get one.
"They are still hoping he can make a stallion prospect, he’s by Redoute’s Choice and obviously needs to win races.
"I know the ability he’s got, it’s now a case of getting him to show it."
Lighthorseman races in blinkers and a tongue tie and has had few problems since the operation to cure his throat problem.
"His throat was completely paralysed but it’s clear now," Portelli said.
"The only problem we have is with dust.
"It gets into his airways so we have to give him special feed which is damp.
"Whatever he breathes in goes straight into his airways."
Portelli will also be represented by Allervite at Randwick with the sprinter among 11 nominations for the Open Handicap (1300m).
By Caryl Williamson