Talented sprinter Rebel Dane recorded his first win at Group 1 level in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield this afternoon.
Rebel Dane hit the front with 200 metres left to run but looked as though he was going to be caught by the fast-finishing Solzhenitsyn or a brave Fontelina who did a lot of work in the early stages of the race.
Rebel Dane managed to kick on the line to claim victory in a photo finish from Fontelina while Solzhenitsyn, who seemed to stall on his run, finished third in the race for the second year in a row.
Trainer Gary Portelli was always confident that Rebel Dane was good enough to win a Group 1 race and was clearly delighted that the four-year-old held on for the win.
“It is a great relief, it is a long straight at Caulfield, he sort of hit the front early and they were coming from everywhere,” Portelli said after the race.
“Bossy has had the belief that this horse was a Group 1 horse, and we were hoping that he was, and he walked out today and said leave it to me.
“It was brilliant how it worked out I think he got cover in the first fifty metres and the rest was history.
“Every trainer in the world wants to win these Group 1 races and it is hard to find these type of horses.”
Portelli’s plan was always to keep Rebel Dane fresh this preparation and he said after today’s race that he would give the California Dane entire a brief break before bringing him back for the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 9.
“We are there now, his rating will be through the roof, and we will have to race in these sort of races,” Portelli said.
“I would like to freshen up for the Patinack now and give him one more look down the straight.
“I will talk to Bossy about it but that is the race that I’m keen to finish the campaign on.”
Glen Boss was desperate to pick up the ride on Rebel Dane during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, flying to Sydney to ride the four-year-old in a barrier trial, and was confident he would win a major race but admitted that he was unsure if he held on for victory this afternoon.
“That was hectic that was,” Boss said
“He did it tough this horse; he was three wide but he really dug deep.
“Crossing the line Peter (Robl) and I didn’t know who won.
“I have nothing but admiration for this colt, he has a great turn of foot when you give him the chance to use it, and I am really proud of the horse.”
Boss was celebrating his second victory in the Rupert Clarke Stakes after winning the 2009 edition of the race with Turffontein.