Portelli sets off on Ascot adventure

Sydney trainer Gary Portelli embarks this week on the adventure of a lifetime to England’s famous Royal Ascot meeting.

The unlikely conduit for Portelli’s first trip to Europe is Gold Trail, a horse the trainer originally thought would be lucky to win races in his home town.


But the five-year-old has surprised his trainer over the past 12 months, graduating from stakes placegetter to Group One winner of the Railway Stakes in New Zealand.

His gallant fourth in the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore earlier this month convinced connections to press on to England.

“The KrisFlyer was 1200 metres which is always a question with him,” Portelli said.

“But the 1000 metres of the King’s Stand at Ascot should really suit.

“The horse arrived fit and well from Singapore.

“Nothing seems to faze him and I’m very excited about seeing him next week.

“He travelled to New Zealand and Singapore with no problems at all which is a big advantage and has regained the weight he lost on the way to England.

“I am going over on Thursday and will be there for all his gallops leading up to the race.

“He will work on the Saturday and the Tuesday then have a hard gallop on the Thursday ahead of the race the following Tuesday.

“I’ve never been to Europe and I’m looking forward to the experience.”

Michael Rodd will partner Gold Trail in the King’s Stand on June 15 while international jockey Frankie Dettori will be aboard Australia’s other entrant, Nicconi.

The David Hayes-trained Nicconi has been installed the 5-1 favourite with British bookmakers while Gold Trail remains a 16-1 chance.

Alverta, who accompanied Nicconi on last week’s flight from Melbourne to England, is at 16-1 for the Golden Jubilee (1200m) on June 19 while Nicconi is at 10-1 for that race.

Tye Angland, who rode the Paul Messara-trained Alverta to her Group One victory in the Coolmore Classic, has been rewarded with the ride at Royal Ascot.

Australian sprinter Choisir won both races in 2003 but only Nicconi is a chance to contest the two.

By Caryl Williamson