Gary Portelli’s consistent six-year-old Rebel Dane looks spot-on for a first-up run in the Australia Stakes 2016 at Moonee Valley Racecourse Saturday week after a smart Randwick trial on Tuesday morning.
The now six-year-old son of California Dane was last seen running third to Chautauqua at the Valley in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m), his third run of a short spring campaign that also included his seventh career win in Randwick’s Group 2 The Shorts (1100m).
A winner of over $1.64 million in prize money over his 25 starts to date, Rebel Dane is best known for his 2013 success in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield Racecourse.
Last year’s The Shorts victory was his first win since the Sir Rupert triumph, and the Warwick Farm-based Portelli is hoping for more turf success when the galloper returns for the Melbourne Festival of Racing.
Rebel Dane had his first public hit-out of the year on Tuesday over 838m at Randwick’s Kensington Track with his hoop through the spring Brenton Avdulla aboard.
One and a half lengths separated the horse and first past the post, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Al Nader who won in a time of 48.9 seconds.
The solid trial effort impressed Portelli who named the $200,000 Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) on January 23 as the returning aim for Rebel Dane, where Avdulla will retain the ride, who will then target a trio of Group 1 autumn features.
“The Australia Stakes is on Saturday week so there’s not enough time to give him another trial but I’ll take him to the races on Saturday. I’ll get permission off the ATC to give him a gallop,” Portelli told Racenet.
“It’s not ideal because I was supposed to trial him last Thursday at Warwick Farm but they got called off because of the rain.
“It’s just compressed everything so we won’t give him too hard a gallop on Saturday but we’ll give him a gallop and then we’ll taper off before the Australia Stakes to have him nice and fresh.”
The year’s opening Group 1 race is also on Rebel Dane’s agenda with the $400,000 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) running at Caulfield on February 13 followed by $400,000 Futurity Stakes at the same track and distance on February 27.
“I had a good talk with his owner Louis Mihalyka and we said we’ve never had him in early in the autumn before and we’ve always had him in later and he’s run straight into the big guns later in the autumn,” Portelli said.
“We thought we could have him in now and emulate Dissident, who did the same thing and ran in those three races.
“He likes the Caulfield track and the 1400m seems to be his best distance.”
The other race Portelli refers to is Sydney’s $400,000 Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick in April during The Championships.
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