Canterbury preview: Gary Portelli’s exciting colt ready to star on the big stage

Golden Slipper winning trainer Gary Portelli reckons Friday night’s Canterbury debutant Bil Colyns could be blockbuster colt by the time the autumn comes around.

The son of Not A Single Doubt steps out for the first time in the Stud And Stable Staff Awards Handicap (1200m) against some hot opponents but aided by a good draw and his natural talent.

“I think he has got huge potential for later on,” Portelli said. “I love the way he stretches out when you ask him.

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Trainer Gary Portelli has been a fan of Bil Colyns since he saw him at the Magic Millions sale last year. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“He is a beautifully bred horse that is going to get further. So from barrier one, he should get every chance to get a nice run in transit and I would like to see him finishing off.

“He then more than likely have a little break and maybe aim up at something later in the carnival like the Champagne Stakes.”

Portelli himself has a share in the colt along with a large group of owners which is hardly surprising given that he has been a fan from the first moment he saw him at the Gold Coast almost a year to the day of his debut.

“I bought him off Gerry Harvey at the night session,” Portelli said.

“I loved the horse, I loved the way he walked. He has a great big walk and movement through his hips and pelvis and he just looked like he was going somewhere so I really wanted to buy him.

“He was the horse I targeted at the sale and I found out that the reserve would be about $150,000 so I made sure I bid $150,000 when that bid was available and there was no one left so I got him for that.

“I think that is pretty cheap looking forward because I think potentially he is a very nice colt.”

Estrado (right) is a big improver at Canterbury according to trainer Gary Portelli. Photo: Dan Himbrechts/AAP ImageSource:AAP

Bil Colyns is closely related to a world champion racehorse namely – Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.

Portelli’s colt gets his clever name from his dam, Theatre Critic, an obvious nod to the much loved movie buff Bill Collins who was a regular in most of Australia’s living rooms on a Saturday night, Portelli’s included.

“Mum made me sit there in front of the TV when I was kid and made me go through everything, Bill Collins telling you how good the movie was and ‘watch for the part when …’ and ‘I love the way this was put together’,” Portelli recalled.

Portelli is a big chance of closing tonight’s credits with a win in the last via Estrado whom he suggests is a massive improver on her first-up run at Warwick Farm.

“She actually pulled up crook after that run. We expected her to go well, we had J-Mac on, the whole thing was there but she raced well below expectation and a coupe of days later her blood went through the roof.

“We got her through it and she trialled really well the other day.”


Warwick Farm housed filly Dawn Flight has raced nowhere else but Orange and should return home to Sydney with her maiden status behind her.

The Jarrod Austin-trained daughter of the unbeaten Fighting Sun turned in an encouraging debut fourth out west despite drifting in the betting from $20 out to $71 at one stage.

Three weeks later, Dawn Flight was back at Orange, this time at $10 and was most unfortunate not to win her 1400m assignment.

“It was a ripper of a run,” Austin said. “She just got into a bit of an awkward spot there from the barrier but she really motored to the line and has done really well since so she has only improved.

“I expect her to be really hard to beat in a very similar race with a good barrier draw on Friday.

“Her work has been a lot of stronger and sharper since she came back in and she is just starting to learn what it is all about.”

Another of Austin’s rock solid prospects at Orange on Friday is the valuable mare Rosadiblu who lines-up in the Southern Cross Class 1 Handicap over 1280m.

Trainer Jarrod Austin has two strong chances at Orange on Friday. Photo: Simon Bullard/AAP ImageSource:AAP

The mare is by Lonhro out of Midnight Joy who is the product of two Blue Diamond winners in Zeditave and Midnight Fever.

Rosidablu, who races in the same colours as Ramornie winner Signore Fox, has only managed one win in her 15 starts but will find today’s race easier than the deep Class 1 she contested at Canberra on December 13.

“She likes a little bit of a soft track, that is the key with her, and it looks like we are going to get that on Friday at Orange,” Austin said.

“She was really competitive all the way through her maiden races and was a bit unlucky a few times.

“She needs to take the next step up to Class 1 grade but I am happy with her; she has progressed along nicely.”

Austin’s other two Orange bound stablemates, Tresse D’or and Miss Understanding, have a fair bit in common.

Not only will they run in the same race today, they are both greys and were born on exactly the same day, October 13 in 2015, albeit on opposite sides of the Tasman.

Originally published asCanterbury Preview: Portelli’s colt set to star under lights

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