JENNY Graham believes Portatorio “won’t know himself” with 54kg on his back but the local trainer has a slight leaning towards Art Attack as the pick of her two runners at Port Macquarie.
Portatorio lumped 60kg when finishing fourth first-up in a Class 3 (1006m) at Grafton but drops to the limit in Thursday’s Open Handicap (1200m).
Naturally the race is much harder but Graham is hoping the drop in weight and the addition of blinkers can help Portatorio return to winning form.
“The race might be a little bit tough for him because he has lost form from a young horse because of injuries,” Graham concedes.
“In saying that, I was happy enough with his (first-up) run and they were basically just on speed and stayed on speed (at Grafton).
“I think over 1200m back at Port and with the light weight, it will help him.
“He has worked well (with the blinkers on) and he is relaxing a little bit early in the first part of his race and I’m hoping they just might switch him on a bit early not that I want him to lead or anything.”
BRAD DAVIDSON BEST BETS
BEST BET: PATRIOT (Race 6, No.3)
Won well off a five-week freshen at Geelong and he has drawn pretty well in barrier seven. His last start race has produced multiple winners and he can go on with it here.
NEXT BEST: DEE YOU SEE KAY (Race 8, No.7)
Has won two of her past four starts and she has trialled well in the lead up to her return. Still on the way up and she should run well fresh.
BEST VALUE: GRONKY (Race 4, No.5)
Can get back a bit in his races but he has some nice form lines heading into this. He won at Kembla Grange two back and then ran on well a Muswellbrook last start. This looks a nice race for him.
Quaddie: Race 5: 2,4,5,7,9; Race 6: 1,3,6; Race 7: 1,2,5,8; Race 8: 4,7,12.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW
Ben Looker has a strong book of seven rides, including Portatorio in Race 5.
TRAINER TO FOLLOW
Kris Lees only has the three horses engaged today but all eyes will be on Bastia when he makes his return in Race 7.
SCROLL DOWN FOR BRAD DAVIDSON’S EXTENDED PREVIEW
Graham will also saddle up the resuming Art Attack in Race 8.
“He is working really well that little horse and he will run a nice race first-up and he has been placed quite a few times first-up,” she said.
“But he is a horse that likes a little bit further but in saying that I’m still happy enough with him going into it.
“I would probably lean a little bit towards Art Attack (as my best chance) because even know it is a bit short for him he is in the right grade.”
Meanwhile, Graham gave an update on her promising young horses in Victorem and Awesome Pluck.
“Victorem is trialling (on Thursday) and Awesome Pluck will trial at Port Macquarie on November 28 and we will make a few decisions from there,” she said.
“At this stage they will probably both go to town whether it’s a Highway race or a three-year-old race.
“They are both really nice horses and I think Awesome Pluck will get ground later and I think he has a bit more scope in that way but over a shorter course I wouldn’t say one (is better than the other).
“They both have good ability.”
WAVING PATRIOT FLAG
JOHN Sprague is taking plenty of faith from Peter Snowden’s comments as Patriot prepares to make his debut for his new stable at Port Macquarie.
The former Snowden-trained Patriot won a Geelong maiden last start before being sold and sent to Sprague at Port Macquarie.
“I don’t know too much about him but I got told by Mr Snowden he is a city class horse and that I should have a lot of fun with him,” Sprague said.
Sprague has six runners engaged at his home track and gives Telegraph readers his thoughts on every one.
He rated Saint Denis, Jemily and Patriot as the three horses he likes most.
SAINT DENIS: “He hasn’t had a lot of luck and he just hasn’t been able to get there. He has been a bridesmaid but he just can’t be the bride. I think the bigger track at Port Macquarie will suit him a lot more and the wider barrier he might not go as fierce and hopefully it all goes his way. He just seems to get in behind traffic and once he gets out and wound up he just misses out all the time.”
HOLLYWOOD CHARGER: “Goes very well and he has grown up a lot this time in. He was very immature last start and very green but this time in he seems all right.”
VELVET BROWN: “She has been a little bit difficult and I think it will take her a couple of runs to find her way and (for us to) find out a bit more about her.”
DEW DROP: “He is going very well and he is a very nice horse and I’m expecting a very nice future out of him hopefully. I’m expecting him to show up fresh.”
JEMILY: “She is always around the mark and Peter Graham going back on will be a big benefit because she just seems to run for him more than what she does for (apprentices). Peter seems to get the best out of her and I think with the extra distance she can settle easier without being scrubbed up early. Hopefully she can run home and she does love Port Macquarie.”
PATRIOT: “I’ve only had him a couple of weeks and that’s all I know. He is working well and I haven’t done a great deal with him but hopefully for the owners (he turns out to be a decent horse).”
INSIDE MAIL WITH BRAD DAVIDSON
Tough race to kick off the day. 2. Amare should park herself up on speed from the good draw and she did beat all bar Not A Princess at Tamworth last start. 1. Saint Denis has been a hard horse to follow for punters and he has a wide gate and big weight to contend with here. He does have a good finish on his day though. 3. Galaxy Jak has been well beaten at his past few starts but they have been in provincial company and that could be good enough for this race. 5. Benfica Bay isn’t hopeless either.
BETTING STRATEGY: Boxed quinella- 1,2,3
7. Arrossire won a recent Wyong trial in strong fashion and she looks to have come back well. She wasn’t far away in two runs last preparation and just needs a bit of luck from the awkward draw. 1. Usainly and 3. Salty Rain both finished runner-up last start and their form is good enough to be in the finish here. 9. Real Son Of A Gun is having his first start in NSW and he may find the 1000m a bit sharp.
BETTING STRATEGY: Arrossire to win
8. Mister Smartee wasn’t far away at Tuncurry on debut and he did sit wide in the run and it was on a heavy track. Horses often improve sharply from their first to second start. 13. Tayrose had to do a bit of work from the wide draw last start when running second to Born In Barcelona at Muswellbrook and her effort before that at Muswellbrook was solid as well. 9. Bubbles De Beer is always around the mark but is yet to win in 13 starts, while 6. Dew Drop can show up fresh here.
BETTING STRATEGY: Quinella- 8,13
5. Gronky can get back a bit in his races but he has some nice form lines heading into this. He won at Kembla Grange two back and then ran on well a Muswellbrook last start. 1. Laszlo brings city form to the table and he is probably the best horse in the race but 62kg is the leveller. If he can carry the big weight, he will be hard to beat. 4. Bakslap was only beaten 3.5 lengths at Newcastle last start and the drop back to country grade suits. 9. Capital Magic and 10. Zar Gold are also capable.
BETTING STRATEGY: Gronky to win
2. Prince Mayted will go forward from his awkward draw and give them something to catch. 9. Portatorio was disappointing first-up with the big weight when well backed. The 1200m is more up his alley and the blinkers go on. 4. Epic Dan was far from disgraced in the city last start and also has each-way claims, while 5. Oscar’s Choice will relish dropping back to the country. 7. I’m Danny has won three from six starts at this track and looks next best.
BETTING STRATEGY: Quinella- 2,4,9
Good race this with a host of last start maiden winners lining up. 3. Patriot won well off a freshen at Geelong and he has drawn pretty well in barrier seven. 1. Sylvie brings strong form lines to the table having won at Kembla Grange last start and the query with her is the wide gate and how much work she has to do early. 5. Magic Choir and 6. Golly Miss Solly both won convincingly last start and also must go in the mix.
BETTING STRATEGY: Patriot to win
1.Bastia is first-up at 1500m with 61.5kg and a wide gate- it doesn’t look very good does it but he has a class edge on this lot and he carried 60kg and ran well in town last preparation. Kris Lees wouldn’t be running him over 1500m fresh if he didn’t think he was ready for it. 7. Commandatore won well last start at Muswellbrook and he has been quite consistent of late. 8. Tres and 2. Cinema Paradiso also have claims.
BETTING STRATEGY: Bastia to win
7. Dee You See Kay has won two of her past four starts and she comes here off the back of two recent trials and a short spell. 4. Art Attack has trialled up OK for this and he should get a good run from barrier three first-up. 5. General Nelson, 6. The Free World and 13. Kelsha Begs are all capable as well.
BETTING STRATEGY: Dee You See Kay to win