She Will Reign blitzed her rivals to record an impressive victory in the 2017 Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon.
A number of punters and experts dropped off She Will Reign after she suffered an upset defeat at the hands of Frolic in the Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m) a fortnight ago, but the wet track run clearly benefitted from the run on a heavy track.
It was Houtzen that took up the running and ensured that the Golden Slipper was run at a brutal pace, but it was She Will Reign that was always travelling better and she quickly picked up her rival at the top of the straight.
Frolic, Menari and Tulip stormed home late, but She Will Reign was far too good and she delivered both trainer Gary Portelli and jockey Ben Melham the biggest wins of their career to date.
Portelli has been attempting to win the Golden Slipper since the start of his training career and he was clearly delighted to have claimed his first-ever major with a horse that he believes will be even better on a firmer track.
“This game has taken me a long way,” Portelli said.
“I struggled to get through year 10, I was a battler working the nightshift at a bakery and my dream was to be a City trainer.
“It just goes to show to anybody out there that isn’t sure what they are doing in life to stick at it and work hard and days like this might come.
“It is a great kick-along for us.
“We have been trying to win this race for a long time.
“I’m glad she ran last start on the heavy track and she flew through it today.
“It was an absolute peach from Melham.
“I told him to go quick and try to get across, but he just looked at me and went quiet.
“He said ‘she has lost her speed early and I would rather go back’, so I said if she jumps good go to my tactics and if she jumps ordinary you do what you have to do.
“He rode her the same as he did in the Silver Slipper and she won by ever further.
“She won a Golden Slipper by three or four lengths – that is crazy.”
Melham’s partnership with Portelli began when he steered Rebel Dane to victory in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) during the 2016 Spring Racing Carnival and that partnership has already paid serious dividends.
Melham was clearly delighted to have won his first major and also relieved that his tactics had paid dividends in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds.
“I have won a few Group 1s now, but this is my first major,” Melham said.
“I actually had to pinch myself coming across the line.
“She is an exceptional filly and she really made my job easy.
“I had a plan to find the rail and when I got on the back of Houtzen on the corner, I thought that this is all over now.
“A lot of planning goes into these races and you only get one track at them, so you need to make sure you get them right.
“I might have been strung up on the balls if I got it wrong, but thankfully I don’t have to worry about that.”
Frolic finished strongly along the inside for second, while Menari showed what he is capable of to fight-off Tulip for third, but the result was overturned on protest.