Canterbury night racing: Nicci’s Fling on course for higher honours

Gary Portelli has big plans for Nicci’s Fling this autumn and if she can overcome a wide gate and win at Canterbury Park on Thursday night, his confidence will be further boosted.

The Nicconi filly has only won two country races but showed she was much better than that grade last time in when a close fifth behind Forbidden Love in the Listed Reginald Allen Quality.

Portelli has given Nicci’s Fling just one quiet trial before her Benchmark 72 Handicap (1100m) at Canterbury and regular rider Kathy O’Hara is on again.

Portelli said she was ready to take her spring form into the autumn.

Gary Portelli has high hopes for Nicci’s Fling this campaign. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“She finished a length-and-a-half off them in a stakes race last time in and ran a really good race when she ran third at Rosehill,” he said.

“She’s a good filly who I think I can get black type with this ­preparation.

“She’s big and strong and I think she’s got a big future. She’s the next horse for me as far as getting that black type. She can have a good carnival.”

Nicci’s Fling has to win at Canterbury from barrier eight and if O’Hara can slot her in to a good position, she’s a real hope of winning again first-up.

This time, though, it’s not as easy as doing it at Nowra.

Portelli said Nicci’s Fling had come back like a horse who is ready to win and stay in town for the ­remainder of her career.

“She sprints well fresh,” he said. “She’s drawn a little awkwardly so we’ll need a good ride from Kathy, and if the rain keeps coming down the middle of the track might be the place to be. She’s going really well and trialled up nicely.”

Bil Colyns will run for Portelli in the opening race. He ran 10th of 11 at Canterbury on debut but had ­excuses.

“He hit the rail on the first corner then ran straight up the backside of one,” Portelli said. “Being a big-striding horse, he just lost all momentum when that happened.

“He was good past the post and you’ll never see him give up. He’s a tough little horse who has come on since that first-up run.”

Kathy O’Hara will be chasing another win on Nicci’s Fling at Canterbury Park. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Bil Colyns will come out of gate eight under O’Hara and even though his first-up run didn’t go to plan, he didn’t fade out of the race.

Portelli said he would run better but stopped short of saying he was a good winning hope.

“He’s drawn a bit awkwardly in a small field,” Portelli said. “I just want to see him stretching through the line. He will like a bigger track.

“I’m probably pull up with him after this run and look towards the late part of the carnival and even Brisbane.”

Above And Beyond will be looking for back-to-back wins for Portelli at Rosehill on Saturday and he feels he will go very close after running away with a top win last start.

“It was good to see him put it together and he gets in light again,” Portelli said. “I think he’ll be a huge chance if he reproduces what he did last start.”



He’s taken some work, but it was all worth it for the Stephen Jones stable as Photogenic won on debut for the stable last start — and he’s on track to do it again at Bathurst on Friday.

The More Than Ready four-year-old had been in two stables before arriving at the Jones yard with behaviour problems.

“He had barrier issues, but he seems to be doing no wrong now and he did everything right the other day,” Jones said.

“He was just missing the start and he had issues jumping. He just wasn’t that good in there and we had to do a fair bit of work to get him right.

“We put him through the barriers every day and mucked around with him.”

Photogenic led them into the straight at Gunnedah last start and kicked clear for a 1½-length win, which would not have happened last preparation.

Grant Buckley will ride Photgenic at Bathurst. Picture: Jenny EvansSource:News Corp Australia

Jones thinks he has picked up a horse that can get to a richer race if he wins this one and Grant Buckley retains the ride.

“It was very dominant last start. It actually surprised me a little bit but he does have plenty of ability,” Jones said.

“He drifted (in the betting) that day, but he did the right thing and I think he will go on.

“I think he’ll at least win a Highway in town.

“He would’ve got a lot of confidence out of that and his work has been terrific, so things are good with him. If he can go to that next step here it would be terrific.”

Saint Kitts also runs earlier in the day in race one after running 11th of 12 at Wellington on debut. Off that, he will be an outsider on Friday, but Jones is giving him another chance.

“I don’t know what went wrong there,” Jones said.

“It might have been the track. It’s very tight out there and it might not have suited him very well. It was his first start and he just didn’t seem to handle the track.”

Originally published asCanterbury preview: Fling can reinforce Portelli’s plan

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