The margin at the finish was only a length but the result was never in doubt for She Will Reign.
The Golden Slipper winner is part-owned by Tamworth’s Bianca and Andrew Pieper and trainer Gary Portelli summed the filly’s win up best when he said: “She wasn’t fat enough to get beat but she was certainly fat enough to improve off.”
The three-year-old was sent out at the prohibitive odds of $1.24 and accounted for 92 per cent of bets on the race with TAB. Ben Melham left nothing to chance taking the race by the scruff of the neck from the outset and despite having to do a little more on her than he originally planned, she pulled out enough at the finish to hold off the brave Acqume.
“She was standing in the barriers very complacent, and she has always done that,” Melham said.
“It’s a fine line between revving her too much. Sometimes she can jump and really hammer. You just have to do enough to have her switched on without her running through the bridle.
“Because I made her begin, the saddle came back a little leaving the barriers. It made it a bit awkward for us but I’m still pretty happy with that knowing there is good improvement in her. She only had the one soft trial going into today and it’ll benefit her a heap fitness-wise.
“She has filled out. She was always a sensible horse but she is certainly more mature but very casual which is not a bad thing for a young filly.”
Portelli revealed Melham had been at him over the past week to keep next week’s Lightning Stakes at Flemington “in the back of his mind”, which would set up a clash with Redzel, but the Oakleigh Plate is still Portelli’s preferred option.
“When you are watching live, it’s a little bit more nerve wracking but I thought he throttled down a little late looking after her,” said Portelli.
“We had a conversation earlier in the week where he wanted to back her up in the Lightning and I said it would depend on how hard a gallop she had today.”