Winx in a class of her own: Portelli

On any other occasion, Gary Portelli would be saddling up Rebel Dane for a Group Two race thinking he could win.

On Saturday against Winx in the Warwick Stakes at Randwick, he will be happy to settle for second.

“The fantasy is we do beat her. The reality is we can’t,” Portelli said.

“But as they say it is better to have tried and failed than to never try at all.

“I just hope we’re good enough to be in her photo.”

The photogenic Winx has had the frame to herself the past nine times she has stepped out on a racetrack and is odds-on to do it again.

Since she ran second in the Australian Oaks in April last year, Winx has reached heights even her trainer Chris Waller finds awesome including the Cox Plate and Doncaster Mile.

Her versatility sets her apart and, although only seven horses will line up in the race, Portelli has no tactical plan to beat her.

“I will leave tactics up to Tommy Berry,” he said.

“He is a track walker and he will know the best place to be.

“Rebel Dane has had a run and he’s got fitness on his side but class-wise she’s got us covered.

“She’s the best horse in Australia. She wins at any distance. She’s an absolute champion but he’ll be in for the fight.”

Winx is at $1.30 to make a successful return with Lucia Valentina at $6 and Rebel Dane the only other challenger under double figures at $8.

In the absence of Winx, the Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the autumn on her preferred soft surface.

Lees said he would not change Lucia Valentina’s race pattern despite a perceived lack of speed in the 1400m-race.

“There doesn’t look to be any speed at all and obviously that’s not going to help us,” Lees said.

“Trying to change things with her, though, isn’t an option. She is a mare who likes to settle and reel off a strong closing sectional when there is pace on up front.

“We’ll just have to wait and see how the race develops.”

For his part, Waller will send Winx out to the track and the rest is up to Hugh Bowman.

“That’s why you put the good jockeys on,” he said.

“I’m not going to be giving instructions.”

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