Veteran Group 1 winner Rebel Dane was forced to undergo a wind operation during his recent spell but has returned to racing in the best way possible at Randwick this afternoon in delivering a small but talented group of sprinters defeat in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m).
Rebel Dane was allocated the ideal barrier 2 for The Shorts on Wednesday afternoon, and allowed himself a great chance of first-up success when jumping well and settling in prime position on the rails, just off the pace of early leaders Ball Of Muscle and Hot Snitzel.
Receiving an ideal run in transit, jockey Brenton Avdulla elected to pull the California Dane entire off the fence rounding onto the final straight and the horse responded well; finding a gap between runners and locking in a fierce sprint battle with Ball Of Muscle; winning by the bob of a head.
Trainer Gary Portelli was on hand for Rebel Dane’s impressive success in The Shorts and is confident the performance suggests a big preparation is on the cards for the veteran sprinter this time.
“My legs are like jelly right now – its been a big effort to get him back and thank god he’s come back in fighting order,” Portelli said.
“He just showed his quality – he doesn’t win by very far but he knows where to win!
“I said to Brenton you’ve got to get going early on him because it takes forever these days for him to really open up.
“I wanted him challenging on the turn today if we could but he rode him beautifully and I though Ball Of Muscle’s race fitness had us there at the 100m but he’s got the heart of a tiger and he knows where the winning post is.
“This preparation now he’s had his throat tied back I think we might have a really big one ahead of us.”
Avdulla delivered a perfectly-timed ride on Rebel Dane to win The Shorts but was quick to heap the praise of the training efforts of Portelli and the class of the horse.
“He’s a horse that’s always shown a lot of ability and when I was able to ride him at the trials the other day I told Gary I wanted to stick with him,” Avdulla said after the race.
“The exhibition gallop last week was all class and doing his form and tapes last night, he had two starts on heavy tracks and got beaten by Pierro one time and Lankan Rupee in the TJ in the other.
“I was hoping the wetter the better, but the track’s not too bad – he’s full of guts and he did the job well.
“Full credit goes to Gary and his team. The horse probably ran out of condition in the last 50m but his class got him over the line.”
Clear race favourite Shiraz appeared to be looming with 300m to run but was unable to match the late pace of Rebel Dane and Ball Of Muscle, finishing third.