Trainer Gary Portelli already has his sights set on the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 1 for Rebel Dane after the veteran sprinter was well beaten in the Group 1 HK$18.5m Longines Hong Kong Sprint 1200m at Sha Tin last Sunday.
Portelli blamed an awkward barrier draw for Rebel Dane’s fading four and three quarter lengths eleventh to Aerovelocity but he is back on his toes and looking forward to the 2017 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
The Warwick Farm trainer said that Rebel Dane had no luck in the early stages of the Hong Kong Sprint after jumping from barrier eight in the thirteen horse field and struggled to be competitive in the straight.
“I had a premonition that the gate was going to be a problem,” Portelli said when he arrived back in Sydney.
“When the gates opened the speed map went out the window. All of the horses inside us didn’t jump well, there was no pace early and we were stuck wide.”
“He had no option to go forward. But when he did get his spot that’s when the pressure really came on, and we were going a long way from home.
“It was a good experience. We were over the moon to be there and disappointed we didn’t get the result we were after but it’s a feather in our cap to even get the call up.
“He is eating his head off. He is fine. It was a tough run but we had him fit and he was ready for it.”
Rebel Dane will fly back to Australia on Christmas night and after spending a further fourteen days in quarantine in Melbourne will return to Portelli’s Warwick Farm stables before being prepared for a first up tilt at the T J Smith Stakes.
“We want to have him ready first-up for the TJ Smith, and are hoping to get a stallion deal done in the meantime,” Portelli said.
Rebel Dane has raced twice in the T J Smith for a first up second to Lankee Rupee in 2014 and a ninth to Chautauqua in 2016.
The seven year old sprinter has raced at the top level since his three year old season for earnings of $2,408,600 and among his eight wins are two Group 1 victories three years apart.
Rebel Dane won the Group 1 $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield during the 2013 Melbourne Spring Carnival and was back in the Group 1 winner’s stall when he scored an upset win in the $1m Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 21 this year.