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Gary Portelli will look to keep his momentum rolling with two improving three-year-olds

If Gary Portelli can celebrate another stakes win with either of his three-year-olds at Randwick, the first people he will be thanking are his staff.

While the Warwick Farm-based trainer lives in an LGA that is not under stay-at-home-orders, many of his strappers do, and he says they have not received enough accolades for the job they have done in testing circumstances.

“They haven’t been able to see their friends and family. All they’ve been doing is waking up, looking after the horses, going to bed. Waking up, looking after the horses, going to bed,” Portelli said.

“They’ve done a great job keeping racing going and we haven’t acknowledged them well enough.”

His staff got juvenile Sejardan to the races in top order last weekend with the colt scoring an impressive debut win in the Breeders’ Plate.

On Saturday, Portelli will be represented by Clyde in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and Akihiro in the Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m).

Akihiro took on older horses in a Midway Handicap last start and finished a tough second from a wide draw.

The Stan Fox and Bondi Stakes have been his campaign targets from the outset and while he steps up in grade, Portelli is hoping his most recent experience holds in him good stead.

“I’ve done it before with horses, I’ve stepped them up out of their grade then brought them back to the grade they should be in and geez, they look good,” he said.

“It’s like it toughens them up and they learn something from the stronger race.

“He’s honest, he tries hard and he’s a top-three chance for sure.”

Clyde is at triple figure odds for the Spring Champion Stakes after being beaten at Newcastle last weekend, but he got worked up before the event then raced greenly in the straight.

With improved manners on Saturday, Portelli says he isn’t the roughest chance.

“He’s got a pedigree and he can gallop,” Portelli said.

“If he won this race, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised but he does a bit wrong still and it just might be coming a bit quick for him. But you can’t win it if you’re not in it.

“He’s in the VRC Derby as well so if he was to run solidly over the 2000, we’re certainly looking at keeping him going and having a crack at the Derby.”

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