Underlining the first Group 1 race of the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival as an ideal early target for his talented sprinter, trainer Gary Portelli has conceded the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield may not be as easy a task for Rebel Dane as he has previously expected, with a particularly talented field expected to be nominated for Saturday’s feature.
A standout performer over the 2013 edition of the Spring Racing Carnival, Rebel Dane won the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) first-up, and while unable to handle the late pace of Speediness when fourth in the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis (1200m) on September 7th, responded in the best way possible when beating Fontelina by a nose in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) most notably on September 29th.
Eyeing the 2014 Memsie Stakes as a good opportunity to chalk up another victory at the highest level of Australian racing before the return of the world’s leading sprinter Lankan Rupee, Portelli told AAP he believes this year’s list of nominees is set to be far stronger than those of seasons gone by.
“The plan may have back-fired. The Memsie is a much stronger race than normal,” Portelli said.
“Usually there are a lot of stayers resuming and there still will be, but with horses like Sweet Idea and Boban it will be tough.”
Pleased with Rebel Dane’s first-up performance for third amongst classy company in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on August 9th, Portelli said the California Dane entire has continued to build in form in the lead-up to the Memsie Stakes; confirming another hit-out in Sydney is on the cards this week before floating to Melbourne on Thursday.
“He had a good gallop over 1000 metres at Warwick Farm on Saturday morning,” Portelli said.
“He will have another gallop on Tuesday and go to Melbourne on Thursday night.
“It will be a hit and run mission because he doesn’t like being away from home too long.”
Contesting an impressive total of six race wins and three minor places from just 17 competitive starts so far, Rebel Dane performed well over four starts through the 2014 Autumn and Winter Carnivals; finishing second to Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) first-up most notably.