Warwick Farm trainer Gary Portelli will rely on Rebel Dane’s unblemished first up record when he tackles the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 12 first up.
Rebel Dane is the winner of six races from twelve starts with a three out three first up record and Portelli has taken this into account in planning to take on the best sprinters in the country at his first run back after a summer spell.
“He has never been beaten first-up so we will go straight into the TJ,” Portelli told AAP.
Rebel Dane realised his enormous potential with a win in the Group 1 $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 29 with premiership rider Glen Boss aboard.
The California Dane stallion followed that up with an unlucky one length fifth to Buffering in the Group 1 $1m Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
Portelli gave Rebel Dane one more run in the Spring and sent him for a spell after finishing seventh to Buffering again in the Group 1 $1m VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington on the final day off the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
“He showed when he raced at Moonee Valley he was up to the best sprinters at weight-for-age,” Portelli said.
“He is back in the stable and is the best I’ve seen him after a spell. He has put on weight and looks fantastic.”
The weight for age T J Smith Stakes is certain to be one of the showcase races on the first day of the two day ‘The Championships’ at Randwick and will draw together one of the best group of sprinters that are available.
Rebel Dane will be up against the Robert Heathcote trained Buffering again while he will be tackling Chris Waller’s multimillion colt Zoustar for the first time.
Zoustar is well into his Autumn Carnival preparation and Waller has earmarked the T J Smith Stakes as one of his major goals this campaign.
The Northern Meteor three year old provided veteran jockey Jim Cassidy with his one hundredth Group 1 winner when the pair combined to take out the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on November 2.
The Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes is part of the revamped Sydney Autumn Carnival which incorporates ‘The Championships’, a two day carnival on the 12th and 19th of April at Randwick with $18m in prizemoney on offer, featuring four Group 1s on both Saturdays.
The other three Group 1s to be run on the first day of ‘The Championships’ are the $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m), $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) and the $1m Inglis Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).
While the four Group 1s to be contested on the second day are $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), the $1m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m), the $1m Australian Oaks(2400m) and the $1m Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m).