The opening Group 1 race of the Melbourne Festival of Racing next February is on the agenda for Gary Portelli’s smart stallion Rebel Dane who will have a complete autumn campaign for the first time next season that includes a CF Orr Stakes 2015 run.
A six-year-old son of California Dane, the horse has won seven of his 25 career starts to date for $1.64 million in prize money including his Group 1 success in the 2013 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield.
He has won just the one race since when taking out the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) first-up at Randwick this September before two more good efforts for the spring.
Second-up Rebel Dane was runner-up to Terravista in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) in Sydney before his Moonee Valley run on October 23 when third to superstar sprinter Chautauqua in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).
That was his 15th Group 1 performance and after the strong run the Warwick Farm-based Portelli gave the galloper a well-earned four weeks’ rest.
Now he is geared up for a Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival campaign next year starting with the $220,000 Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in late January.
He will then line-up for his 16th elite level test the following month in the $400,000 Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m), the weight-for-age classic kicking off Group 1 racing for the carnival at Caulfield in early February.
The next logical target according to Portelli would then be the $500,000 Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) back at the same track and distance a fortnight later on Blue Diamond Stakes Day.
Portelli is yet to saddle-up a starter in either Group 1 autumn assignment he plans to target with Rebel Dane, but is hoping the horse can be competitive based on his solid spring campaign.
This autumn gone Rebel Dane had just the two runs for a William Reid sixth in Melbourne and a disappointing 11th when beating home just two rivals in the Dissident-won All Aged Stakes at Randwick over 1400m.
In 2014 his autumn was also cut short at two runs when he placed a brave second to Lankan Rupee first-up in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) in the mud at Randwick before returning to the track for a fifth to Japan’s Hana’s Goal in the All Aged.
Rebel Dane runs best fresh with an imposing first-up record of four wins, a second and a third from seven resuming runs leading to Portelli’s excitement about his upcoming campaign.
Last year’s CF Orr Stakes winner was the Peter Moody-trained Dissident, Moody having also won the race the previous year with Moment Of Change.
Both winners came off a placing as the beaten favourite in the Australia Stakes with Moment Of Change second in the lead-up and Dissident third.
Both also jumped favourite in the CF Orr Stakes, where the favourites have a remarkable recent record winning all of the past six editions consecutively.
Another three of those were also prepared by Moody with dual champion mare, the ill-fated Typhoon Tracy (2010-11) and his best ever racehorse Black Caviar (2012) who was the last horse to complete the Australia Stakes – CF Orr Stakes double.
No CF Orr Stakes winner has finished worse than third in their final Group race lead-up since 2006 when the Lee Freedman-trained Perfect Promise won the race not having started since her sixth in that year’s Epson Handicap as a 30/1 shot.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest on the upcoming autumn Group 1s, the best early odds for which will be available online through Ladbrokes.com.au!