Romanus coming up Roses for the Spring Champion Stakes
Gary Portelli is bucking the trend of trainers targeting the $1 million Golden Rose and has instead set his sights on winning the Spring Champion Stakes with Romanus.
While the majority of runners in Saturday’s Group Three Run To The Rose at Rosehill are striving to cement their spots in the richest race of the Sydney spring carnival, Portelli has eyes only for the Spring Champion (2000m) at Randwick in October.
Romanus is entered for the Golden Rose, run a fortnight from Saturday, but Portelli says his charge would have to light up the track in The Run To The Rose (1300m) for connections to head that way.
“His whole preparation is aimed at the one race and that’s the Spring Champion,” Portelli said.
“If he won the Golden Rose along the way we’d take that but he would have to run a cracker of a race this weekend to go to the Golden Rose.
“The traditional lead-up to the Spring Champion is that race at Newcastle (Spring Stakes) so he will probably go there.”
By outstanding sire Encosta De Lago out of VRC Oaks winner Bulla Borghese, Romanus was placed in Manhattan Rain’s Skyline Stakes during the autumn and wasn’t disgraced when fifth to the same galloper in the Group One AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes.
He finished third to the highly-rated Hus Der Lieften when he resumed in The Rosebud earlier this month having had one barrier trial in the lead-up.
Portelli expects Romanus to strip much fitter for The Run To The Rose but says he is difficult to gauge because he is a lazy trackworker.
“It was a nice run first-up and he probably would have benefited from having two trials so if that’s the case I expect improvement this weekend,” Portelli said.
“He doesn’t get you very excited with his work, he only does what you make him do.
“I think over a mile (1600m) is when he will come into his own. He’s got the speed to be competitive over the shorter trips but it’s not his go.”
The Run To The Rose is expected to be a key guide to the Golden Rose with many of the early fancies for the Group One race set to go head-to-head, including Hus Der Lieften and exciting Lonhro colt Denman.
David Payne will decide on Friday whether dual acceptor More Than Great takes his place in the race or clashes with the older horses in the Premiere Stakes (1200m).
“We haven’t made a decision yet, the owners want to sit down and have a look at it,” Payne said.
Making the decision tougher is the fact the colt drew similarly in both races, coming up with gate six in The Run To The Rose and five in the Premiere.
By Mandy Cottell