When Gary Portelli left Orange 21 years ago to fulfill his dream of being a successful trainer he could never have imagined a day like Saturday.
Portelli is the trainer of She Will Reign, the reigning Golden Slipper winner and favourite for the $10 million extravaganza, The Everest, [1200 metres] at Randwick.
He said he was relaxed on Friday as he prepared for the event billed as the richest show on turf.
“I’m treating it exactly the same as any other race,” he said.
“She went for a canter today.
“There have been no hiccups, it has been a perfect preparation.
“I’ve always believed that a horse can feel you if you’re nervous.”
He said her lead-up races had been strong and was suited to the distance.
“1200 metres, that’s her distance.”
Portelli said he was not concerned about the horse carrying the burden of favouritism.
“I think it gives you more confidence that we’ve got the right horse.”
She Will Reign will start from barrier two in the hugely-promoted event that is threatening to usurp the Slipper as the biggest sprint race in Sydney.
Portelli said he started training in Orange in 1991.
“In 1996 I decided if I was going to go any further in racing I needed to make a move.”
He headed to Sydney and has not looked back, but Orange is still firmly on his mind.
“I always love coming back to Orange, I love the town.
“I love it in spring and autumn better.”
Portelli has brought horses back to Towac Park to run and said he would continue to do so.
“I travel where the horses can be competitive.
“I’ve got 40 horses in work and I’ve got plenty of slow ones too.”
And he has his eyes on our major prize.
“I’ve won the Orange Cup before and I’d like to do it again,” he said.
The Everest has attracted 12 top quality runners.
Tipsters have pointed to Vega Magic and Chautauqua as being likely threats to She Will Reign’s favouritism by the time they jump at 4.15pm.
Horses have been entered through slot holders who have bought a place in the field for $600,000 each.
The winner will collect $5.8 million in prizemoney and trophies and even the last horse home will earn $175,000.