She Will Reign has firmed to outright 2017 Golden Slipper favouritism after keeping an unbeaten record in the $500,000 Inglis Nursery at Randwick.
In a win that had jockey Ben Melham rating the $20,000 yearling as a quality racehorse, She Will Reign recovered from a tardy start to beat her fellow sales graduates by four lengths.
Trainer Gary Portelli left it until race morning before deciding to start She Will Reign after the Randwick track received more than 30mm of rain in the lead-up to the Villiers Stakes meeting on Saturday.
Except for a few fleeting strides as the field jumped, Portelli’s decision to back She Will Reign up after a Kembla Grange win last week always looked like paying off.
Melham, who linked with the Portelli-trained Rebel Dane to win the Manikato Stakes during the Victorian spring carnival, said he had no doubt She Will Reign would be too good as he cantered her to the start.
“Going to the barrier I knew she’d win,” he said.
Melham’s association with Rebel Dane opened the way for the Melbourne jockey to have the inside running for the Nursery ride.
“I was lucky enough to trial this horse when I was up here trialling Rebel Dane,” Melham said.
“I put my name on it when I trialled it. I thought it was pretty special.”
Golden Slipper bookmakers also thought the win had some X-factor about it as they promoted She Will Reign from an $11 equal favourite to the top line of betting at $8.
Easing down over the final 100m, She Will Reign, the $1.90 favourite, defeated Diamond Tathagata ($41) with African Rainbow ($81) a short head away third.
Portelli said She Will Reign would be sent for a short spell to be prepared for next year’s best two-year-old races.
“She has always been very fast and I originally thought she might only be a nine hundred-metre horse,” Portelli said.
“Now the next thing we have to do is try to teach her to settle because it can be hard to lead all the way in any big race.”
Melham brought up a race-to-race double when the favourite Kinshachi ($4.60) scored a clear-cut win for Godolphin in the Segenhoe Cup.