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Image: Steve Hart
There are no plans to retire Nicci's Gold who continues to impress

Now that Nicci’s Gold has black-type to her name from her third in the Winter Stakes, trainer Gary Portelli is looking to the mare to build on her record.

The four-year-old ran a close third behind Eckstein and Gaulois in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) last Saturday week.

She had previously run fourth in the Civic Stakes at her only other attempt at the higher level and will step out against a similar field to the Winter Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday.

Eighteen entries headed by Eckstein were taken on Monday for the Winter Challenge (1500m), the final stakes race in Sydney for the season.

Eckstein, who was bought by Coolmore at the broodmare sale in May and sent to Chris Waller, will be having her final start with the $750,000 mare to be served by US triple crown winner Justify in September.

There are no plans to retire Nicci’s Gold with Portelli hoping she can step up even higher.

“I never thought she would be a stakes horse especially early on when she got beaten in a Bathurst maiden,” Portelli said.

“But she has surprised me. I’m hoping she can go on with it now.

“We could look at giving her a break in the spring and bringing her back for a race like the Villiers in December.

“And then who knows? If she won that she would be in the Doncaster.”

That is a long way off and the trainer has been pleased with Nicci’s Gold while accepting her pattern of racing always means she will get back and run home, sometimes having to depend on luck.

With her past two riders, Jason Collett and Robbie Dolan, suspended the mare will be ridden by Samantha Clenton who won on her in June.

Veteran stablemate Testashadow, fifth in the Winter Stakes, will also run in the Challenge.

“He will be at his peak on Saturday and I expect him to run well,” Portelli said.

The winner of almost $1.5 million prize money, much of it from the Magic Millions summer carnival, Testashadow will be partnered again by Deanne Panya.

The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Stampede and Eckstein are both rated on 107 and have been given 61kg and 59kg respectively.

Testashadow has 54.5kg while Nicci’s Gold is on the 53kg minimum.

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