Gary Portelli said the pressure wasn’t on him but on rival trainer Chris Waller for Saturday’s Warwick Stakes 2016 where a “bigger better” Rebel Dane tackles returning champion Winx.
All the pre-race hype for the $250,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) is on Street Cry mare Winx, out to extend her winning streak to nine consecutive victories first-up at Royal Randwick.
The reigning Cox Plate champion was last seen posting her sixth elite level victory in April’s Doncaster Mile, a track the now five-year-old boasts five wins and three seconds from nine runs over heading into the Warwick Stakes.
Winx dominates pre-field Warwick Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $1.40 and firming to kick off her spring with a win, despite news out this week she underwent surgery over the break to remove a bone chip.
Kris Lees’ Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Lucia Valentina is the other best fancied Warwick Stakes nominee at a current quote of $4.80 to score the upset, followed by Rebel Dane at $8.
Portelli isn’t feeling the pressure ahead of Saturday’s run, his California Dane stallion coming off a second from August 6 behind the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Tycoon Tara in a muddy edition of the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m).
Rebel Dane is out to break a nearly year-long drought, not having won since his resuming success in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) first-up at Randwick last September.
Since then he has run competitively in a host of tough assignments including his third in last October’s Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley behind Chautauqua on Cox Plate Eve and his fourth to English in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) in Sydney during the autumn.
Rebel Dane is yet to face off against Winx, and Portelli knows there is nothing he can do about her presence in the field on the weekend, instead focusing on the condition of his galloper.
“There’s not much we can do about it but this week the pressure won’t be on me,” he told AAP.
“Rebel Dane is bigger and better than he has been in past preparations.
“Usually in the spring we have taken him to Melbourne for his early runs and brought him back each time.
“This time we decided to keep him here for the early races hoping he would be up and running before all the good horses got back.
“It hasn’t quite worked out that way but I’m very happy with him and the way he’s going.”
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