Apprentice jockey Timothy Bell is ready for a big day at Eagle Farm on Saturday having been booked for four rides including his prize mount of the meeting aboard Border Rebel in the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
Sue Grills’ talented Tamworth-trained galloper Border Rebel is unwanted in the Stradbroke markets at a long quote of $26, but Bell believes the consistent Johannesburg five-year-old is an undetected threat to many of the better-backed hopefuls.
Eighteen-year-old Bell has ridden Border Rebel for 19 of their 23 career starts to date, including their three runs this campaign, and hopes to score an upset win tomorrow to break his Group 1 maiden before he makes a possible move from his Tamworth base.
Tim Bell has been riding as an apprentice under Sue Grills for the past three years and has appreciated every minute of it.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better boss than Sue,” Bell said.
“She’s a great trainer but I’ve got to move on.
“I’ll probably make up my mind within a week where I’m going to go.
“Sue is like a mother to me and I’ve been at her stables for the base four years, three of which have been as an apprentice.
“I’d love nothing better than to win my first Group One while I’m still with Sue and on my favourite horse, Border Rebel, which gave me my first city winner.”
Winner of the Listed Hinkler Handicap (1200m) at Eagle Farm back in April, Border Rebel was able to defeat fellow Stradbroke rival Listen Son by nearly two lengths first-up and has continued to race competitively leading up their elite level test tomorrow.
After a fourth place finish behind Motspur in the Scone Quality (1100m) on May 13, Border Rebel comes into the Stradbroke Handicap on the back of a brave fourth behind tomorrow’s Straddie favourite Beaded in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 28.
“I was very happy with his 10,000 run and he drops 5.5 kilos,” Grills said.
“He led in the 10,000 but there’s no way that will happen in the Stradbroke.
“I hope he settles fourth or fifth.”
With many of the race favourites drawn wide in this year’s Stradbroke, Border Rebel in barrier nine could be looking at one of the best runs of the race especially if the final two emergencies don’t gain a start allowing him to move in two gates.
If Border Rebel claims the upset Bell believes his favourite horse is capable of, then the young hoop would become just the second apprentice jockey along with Melbourne’s Sebastian Murphy – Mr Baritone (2008) – to win the Stradbroke Handicap since Greg Hall saluted aboard Innisfree back in 1978.
Grills too believes Border Rebel has his claims in the race and knows he will become an even more of a genuine threat if the race is run on Slow ground.
“I’m just praying for rain but he has been the forgotten runner,” she said.
“He’s the best horse I’ve trained and he’s been super to me.
“He can win the Stradbroke, especially if it rains, and the three placegetters that finished in front of him in the Doomben 10,000 (Beaded, Love Conquers All and Black Piranha) are the ones to beat.
“I’d love to win a Stradbroke, especially with Tim, and I won’t be standing in his way if he decided to move on.”
Of Stradbroke Handicap favourite Beaded, trainer Peter Snowden rates the Lonhro mare as the deserved top elect but remains wary of the challenge she faces having drawn wide in barrier 17.
“She’ll need to be at her best,” Snowden said.
“There’s a horse there called Sincero, he’s only been beaten once and only just made the field and that’s showing how strong this race is.
“We’re confident she’ll run well but she’ll need a bit of luck as well.
“(From that barrier) I wouldn’t get too far back, there’s too many chances in the race.
“But Beaded’s one of those horses, you say give it your best and she’ll give you more every time.
“My best chance in Brisbane (on Saturday) is a tough call but I’ve got to stick with the one I know the best and that’s Beaded.”