2015 William Reid Stakes First-Up for Rebel Dane

After this morning being positioned equal 149th with a rating of 116 in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, the Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane is tipped by his trainer to return with a first-up run in the William Reid Stakes 2015 this March.

Rebel Dane

Rebel Dane is likely to run first-up in the 2015 William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley. Photo: Race Horse Photos Australia.

The California Dane stallion has won six of his 20 career starts to date for $1.36 million in prize money and Portelli told RSN’s Racing and Sports program on Wednesday morning the horse was looking stronger than ever ahead of his latest campaign.

“This is the best I’ve had him look,” Portelli said.

“Every preparation he looks better.”

Rebel Dane broke through at elite level in September of 2013 with a narrow in in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield but has been unable to win again since.

It’s been a frustrating string of close calls then for Portelli and connections with the five-year-old including his first-up second last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival behind Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) in a Heavy (9) track.

His other better runs since then include a close fourth when under a length off Spirit Of Boom in Brisbane’s Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m), a third to Buffering in the Group 1 AJ Moir Stakes (1200m) and fourth to Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) when blocked for a run at Moonee Valley on October 24.

Last time out he finished a disappointing seventh after getting caught at the back of the pack in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 8, after which he was sent out to the paddock.

This morning in London Japanese horse and Dubai Group 1 winner Just A Way was ranked the world’s best horse of 2014 with a WBRR 130.

Australian sprinters meanwhile are now officially rated the world’s best once again with Lankan Rupee and Terravista the equal top-rated sprinters with a mark of 123 just ahead of fellow Aussie Chautauqua (122).

Rebel Dane was far from disgraced in the list coming in on 116, a ranking he’ll be out to improve over the next 12 months.

Portelli is very confident that will happen too saying at 500kg he’s the biggest and strongest he’s ever been heading into a prep.

“He’s just come back and looks really good,” he said.

“He’s up to 500 kilograms so I’ve got a bit to work with this time.

“I know this prep is going to be a good one he’s just that sort of horse. He just steps up every time we bring him back.

“He was 440kg when he won his first four in a row.

“He’s stronger physically now and has gone up in ratings too so hopefully this is the prep where he goes to a new rating again.”

At this stage Portelli said they were looking at a first-up run on March 21 at Moonee Valley, one of the horse’s pet tracks, for a shot at the $400,000 Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m).

“At this stage we’re aiming first-up at the William Reid at Moonee Valley,” he said.

“Going forward we’re trying to get another Group 1 before his name.

“We’d be mad not have a go and he races well at the Valley.”

Portelli also hasn’t completely ruled out saving him for the more lucrative $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 4 if the big name sprinters were to fall away.

“If he comes up enormous I could always keep him for the TJ Smith Stakes,” he said.

“They’re all going to be bottlenecked in the same races (the champion sprinters).”

Joe Pride’s Darley Classic winner Terravista ($4.60), runner-up in that same race Chautauqua ($5) and the fellow Hawkes Racing-trained Deep Field ($6) currently lead the futures TJ Smith Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.

Rebel Dane meanwhile is listed in the all-in TJ Smith Stakes odds at $21.

As for jockey selections, Portelli said he’d love to keep Craig Williams on his back after the hoop rode him for his three most recent spring assignments.

“At this stage obviously Craig Williams knows the program so hopefully he can stick with him,” he said.

“I’d like Craig to ride him in Melbourne.

“The Sydney and Melbourne programs clash this year so it depends on who’s around at the time.”

Portelli is looking forward to winning another Group 1 with the horse but wishes there was more prize money on offer for the nation’s sprinters as opposed to the stayers each season.

“It’s what we breed in Australia (sprinters),” he said.

“But they seem to put all the money in the staying races.

“It’s pretty hard to win the Group 1s at that level because we’ve got the world class sprinters.

“Would be nice to see a couple of $2 million sprint races.”

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