Trainer Gary Portelli has revealed he is keeping his fingers crossed for both a good barrier and a quick tempo for the 2014 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) this weekend; believing each to be the key to success for stable star Rebel Dane.
Initially allocated 56kgs for this weekend’s feature race at Eagle Farm, Portelli said the conditions of the race should allow Rebel Dane a great chance at securing a second victory at the highest level of Australian racing.
“It is so important that we draw the right barrier and that all the speed horses generate awkward gates, so that we can get some speed down the back straight and make it a truly run race,” Portelli told Racing Ahead this week.
“Usually 18 runners in a race they need to get across no matter what happens so he really should have his chance.
“He is weighted up to his, I think he goes to 56 and a half once the weights get raised, and there has been no horse ever win a Stradbroke with that sort of weight, so that is a worry, but it all comes down to what you are up against as well.”
Finishing a fighting fourth in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) last time out, Portelli confirmed the California Dane entire has pulled up in perfect condition and has taken to work well ahead of the Stradbroke Handicap.
“He is a horse that I don’t put a real lot of pressure on between runs,” Portelli said.
“That is all he needs and he is a good-winded horse that doesn’t carry a lot of weight.
“We just need to keep him ticking over and keep him sound.”
Contesting an impressive total of six wins and two places from just 15 competitive race starts to date, Rebel Dane was a standout performer over the spring of 2013; claiming the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) first-up and building towards an impressive victory in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) most notably on September 29th.
Returning to the track in similarly impressive form this season, the four-year-old finished second to the world’s leading sprinter Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) first-up and fifth in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) prior to the Doomben 10,000.
The final field and barrier draw for the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap is due to be released this morning (Wednesday, 4 June 2014).
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