Despite what many may have assumed following his run in the Stradbroke Handicap Border Rebel has not gone to the spelling paddock and he will instead contest Friday’s Takeover target Stakes at Gosford.
He’s in fact the defending champion in the event after winning last year in what was a dramatic and controversial race.
Skytrain looked a good chance on that day but fell as they were coming off the bend with plenty of riders jostling for position.
Timothy Bell on Border Rebel was one of them and stewards scrubbed him out for three weeks due to improper riding when he was found to have elbowed Kerrin McEvoy on Skytrain.
McEvoy was seriously injured in the fall and spent months off the track while his back healed.
Regardless of all that the fact remains that Border Rebel is the champion and it’s going to take a good horse to beat him.
Having said that he’s probably not in the same form as he was coming in last year and he is at the back end of a long campaign.
He comes in after running dead last in the Stradbroke Handicap, a far cry away what he offered in 2010.
That year he boasted a pair of wins and a tough second place finish in the group 2 QTC Cup.
It would be a huge effort to turn around what we saw in Brisbane two weeks ago.
“He got too far back in the Stradbroke. Everyone thought there was something wrong with him but he just drifted back and copped a buffeting after 200m,” trainer Sue Grills said.
“He’s never raced that far back in the field before. He didn’t know what was going on.
“He’s good, done well and there’s nothing wrong with him.”
Whether it be blind confidence or an accurate assessment we’ll soon find out as class alone won’t be enough for him to account for this field.
He meets Gai Waterhouse’s heavily fancied sprinter Squamosa which many believe will be too hard to beat.
Also coming back and no doubt hunting for revenge is Skytrain for Peter Snowden.
Border rebel will have the same weight as he did last year, 585kg, the top weight of the field.
Something that will be different though is his rider with Timothy Bell staying on in Brisbane for at least another month as he sorts out his riding future.
They’ve found a good replacement though with Tim Clark filling his shoes.
He’s done well in the barrier draw coming up with gate two and Grills says the biggest factor will be the surface.
“It seems he’s got to have soft tracks now,” she said.
There’s no word yet on if this will be his final run of the prep or if he’ll follow the same path as he did last year.
In 2010 he went on to the Grafton Cup carnival but tired badly to fall away sixth in the $130,000 Ramornie Handicap behind Pinwheel.