The path towards the Magic Millions race day at the Gold Coast begins in a familiar place for Sydney sprinter Straturbo who makes his return at Moonee Valley.
Straturbo is in Melbourne for Saturday’s Montmorency FC Handicap which will be the third year in a row the gelding has kicked off his summer campaign in the corresponding 1000m open handicap.
His trainer Gary Portelli will not make the trip this year to watch the seven-year-old, preferring to stay close to home with a runner at Rosehill but more importantly, to be close to stable star Rebel Dane who is preparing for an international mission.
Rebel Dane, who won the Manikato Stakes last month, will fly to Hong Kong on December 4 for the International Sprint on December 11 and Portelli says the horse is in “a real happy place” ahead of the trip.
Straturbo finished second at Moonee Valley two years ago while last year he finished fourth.
“It’s our program we use to lead to the Magic Millions,” Portelli said.
“But unfortunately without us really knowing when we did the program, Magic Millions has changed the distance of the big sprint from 1100 metres to 1200 metres which is a distance that he has never won over.
“So we might be aiming at a race we’re no hope in because of his form over the 1200 metres, but we’ll still do our best to win as many races as we can on the way through.”
Straturbo won the Magic Millions Sprint in January 2015 while he finished seventh earlier this year.
The gelding hasn’t had a barrier trial this time but Portellii said he gave him a strong course proper gallop at Warwick Farm over 800m to compensate.
“He worked great, his recovery was good and he’s had another little gallop in between on Tuesday,” Portelli said.
To be ridden by Dean Yendall. Straturbo has barrier six in a field of 14 and is at $13.
“He gets around the track which is a big plus,” Portelli said.
“He’ll be ridden aggressively from the gate to take up a forward position and I think that’s a good spot to be in at the Valley.
“He’ll present himself well on the day. It’s an open race with probably half a dozen chances but it will come down to who gets the best luck and obviously who’s the fastest on the day.”