There are a couple of things that came to Gary Portelli’s mind as Rebel Dane prepares to take on the mighty Winx in the Warwick Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
It could be a race that defines his career beyond the track if he can upset the mare, but more likely he will be a part of another winning photo in the Winx collection.
“It is probably a more important race than we would give it credit for if he can win it,” Portelli said. “He is still a stallion and a group 1 winner, so beating Winx might be the difference between seeing five mares a year and 100 mares a year.
“He has been a great horse and probably deserves that, but beating her is a dream. [Winning] would be something that would stand him out from the others.
“In all honesty we are probably running for second if she turns up in the good shape. Winx is the best horse I have seen and just to be in her photo at the post would be good enough to go home happy.
“I think everyone knows they are running for second if she shows up, so you are mindful of that and not going out to beat her but to run his best race. There are proper horses in this race other than her and you will have to be at your top to beat them.”
Portelli said Rebel Dane’s preparation has been faultless and with the run under his belt he takes an advantage in race fitness to Randwick.
The trainer admitted the seven-year-old might be past his peak but he is at his best trip of 1400m and ready to run a great race. Rebel Dane has never been a big, heavy sprinter, but is more athletic than most, so the extra trip from sprints have been his friend.
His group 1 win came at 1400m in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes a few years ago and he has a couple of group 1 fourths at this journey.
“He is still under 500kg, 495kg to be exact, so he’s not overly big and that’s why he has been so sound and is still racing,” Portelli said. “I have always thought 1400m was his best trip because he can use his speed and strength.
“He probably only just gets it [the 1400m], so we will be riding him to be hitting the line. He might have lost his sharpness to sprint but he is still able to hold his speed and never really runs a bad race.”
Winx is a $1.30 favourite to make it 10 wins in a row with Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Lucia Valentina at $6.50 and Rebel Dane at $8.
TAB’s Glenn Munsie said punters are preferring to use Winx to add value to other racing and sports multis during the afternoon.
“She is 90 per cent of the hold on the race but there are no real big bets on her just to win,” Munsie said. “These days punters use a $1.30 chance to make their multis.
“There is actually three times the money on her through multis than actual straight out bets.”
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