Warwick Farm trainer Gary Portelli believes he has his stable star Rebel Dane fit enough to be winning the Group 2 $175,000 McGrath Estate Agents Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Even after a disappointing barrier trial third over 800m on his home track two weeks ago, Portelli still has faith in his top line sprinter to get an early Spring Carnival win on the board.
“Realistically he’s fit enough to win, and he has the best form at this distance in the race and it just comes down to where he is at in life,” Portelli told the Sportsman.
“I’ll be disappointed no doubt if he doesn’t perform.”
“I just wish he had trialled a little bit better. If he’d trialled enormous I’d be declaring him, he just didn’t trial as good as I was hoping and my theory is he was a little underdone going into it.”
“I just want to see what he is like under race pressure because there’s nothing wrong with the horse other than he pulled up a bit big and looked like he needed the gallop.”
“I think I have him pretty close to where I want him. I think he is a little underdone but at 1200m it shouldn’t really matter with him.”
“He had only had one three furlong gallop leading up to the trial, but that would have been sufficient in previous preparations.”
“It was obvious after that trial that he’s needing a bit more work as he’s getting older.”
Portelli is expecting Rebel Dane to improve dramatically fitness wise from his first outing since running seventh to River Lad in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 and is aiming him to be spot on second up in the Group 1 $400,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30.
The Memsie Stakes is run over the same course and distance as Rebel Dane’s only Group 1 win in the $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes last Spring.
“It won’t be a weak Group 1 but it might be a rung below taking on a horse like Lankan Rupee later in the carnival,” Portelli said.
Blake Shinn will be having his first race ride on Rebel Dane and got a feel of the five year old stallion with a gallop in between races at Rosehill last Saturday.
“He probably went a little slower than we wanted but he was only there to have a look around,’’ Portelli told The Daily Telegraph.
“Blake actually said to me the horse felt so strong he was worried that if he slipped him a bit of rein he would have gone too fast.
“The point of the exercise was to take him to the races and use some of that nervous energy.
“He was a bit fired up for the gallop but that will knock the edge off him so he will use that energy in the race rather than before it.’’
Shinn will be replacing Tommy Berry who rode Rebel Dane in the Stradbroke Handicap when regular rider Glen Boss rode the favourite Srikandi into third spot.
Blake is sure to give Rebel Dane a good run midfield from barrier four in the nine horse field that includes four other Group 1 winners.
Rosehill Guineas winner Laser Hawk and Crown Oaks victor Kirramosa are resuming while Chris Waller will saddle up Group 1 winners Boban and Hawkspur as well as the improving Weary.
Rebel Dane at $3.60, holds a slight advantage over the Gai Waterhouse trained Sweet Idea at $3.80 in the market order for the Missile Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Next in the market order is Messene from the Hawkes camp at $4 with Boban and Weary sharing the next line of betting at $9.
Waterhouse has given Sweet Idea one barrier trial in her preparation for her return to racing and the Snitzel mare will be hard to beat first up.