Trainer Gary Portelli believes that the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap barrier draw is key to the chances of Rebel Dane in the Group 1 event at Eagle Farm on June 7.
Rebel Dane returned to his best form with a fast-finishing fourth in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) last Saturday, after failing to fire in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 26, and was the only horse in the field to make up significant ground down the outside of the track.
Portelli told Sky Racing HQ that he feels Rebel Dane would have won the race if he swapped barriers with Spirit Of Boom and is desperate for the son of California Dane to draw a good barrier for the Stradbroke Handicap.
“He works on Eagle Farm and I think that is obviously the track that will suit him,” Portelli said.
“With the big field, they get 18 runners I think with the Stradbroke, there will be a genuine tempo on, but again, we need to draw a good barrier so this horse can posy up.
“He is a tricky horse to ride and he has only ever won his races by small margins – most of the time he has just got there in time – so you really have to be on your game.
“That is the next thing, just waiting for that barrier draw to come out.”
Rebel Dane was allocated 56 kilograms for the Stradbroke Handicap by Racing Queensland handicappers and is set to carry 56.5 kilograms due to the weights being raised half a kilogram following the withdrawal of top-weight Buffering.
Portelli admits that Rebel Dane faces a tough task carrying such a large weight against a strong field in the Stradbroke Handicap, but is confident that the four-year-old is capable of scoring his second Group 1 victory if he draws towards the inside of the field.
“The weights say that it is hard for us, no horse was won with more than 56 ever, but I am worried about drawing a barrier than carrying more weight,” Portelli said.
“If you do have a gate that is borderline you need to have the best run in the race and if you draw a bad gate with big weights than you are in trouble.”
Leading jockey Tommy Berry has been booked to ride Rebel Dane in the Stradbroke Handicap, while Glen Boss will partner Stradbroke Handicap betting favourite Srikandi.