Glen Boss delivered on his pledge to provide the Rebel Dane team with a Group 1 when he partnered the four-year-old to victory in today’s Clamms Seafood Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
The champion jockey has been trumpeting the entire as a Group 1-winner-in-waiting since trialling the Gary Portelli-trained entire at the start of the season and drove him to a narrow victory over Fontelina and Solzhenitsyn in the $400,000 event.
It atoned for an unplaced effort in the Bobbie Lewis Quality at his Victorian debut and Boss was thrilled to see the diminutive performer live up to his promise.
“It’s a great effort from Gary, because when he got down here and got beat people were saying he wasn’t good enough, but he worked here (Caulfield) on Tuesday like a proper Group 1 horse,” Boss said.
“I have nothing but admiration for this colt. He really dug deep today. He’s got form behind him, but he really had to dig deep there to win.”
While the 86th winner at the elite level for Boss, it was just the third Group 1 success for Portelli, whose other career highlights were Rena’s Lady’s ATC Oaks win and Gold Trail’s Railway Stakes win in New Zealand.
It was a satisfying victory given how backward the son of California Dane was as a youngster.
“He was plain and I couldn’t even fit a girth on him when he came through the breakers,” Portelli said.
“He was too small, weak and he was offset. He was just a plain sort of horse but he moved well and we gave him time, just kept bringing back in and out and he strengthened up and he eventually got to 440 kilos.
“That’s still not really a heavy horse. Most horses average about 500 and he’s still only 460. He’s not the prettiest horse but he’s certainly very effective.
“Every trainer in the world wants to win a Group 1 race but it’s hard to find those sort of horses.
“A lot of people spend a lot of money trying to find one, but lucky enough for me that the owners raced the mother of this horse and they bred from him and he was a ugly duckling and couldn’t sell him and I got him to train.”
Rebel Dane made the most of what Boss described as the “perfect” trail to register his sixth win at start number 10.
After settling midfield aboard the $5.50 favourite, Boss got a ride on the back of Linton and peeled to the outside in the straight.
He loomed as the winner at the 250m, but encountered stiff late opposition from Fontelina, who charged through along the inside. Rebel Dane scored by a short-half-head from Fontelina ($18) with Solzhenitsyn ($7.50), who occupied third position for the second year in a row, a short-head away.
The hard-luck story of the race was Speediness ($11), who was slowly away and was held up on a couple of occasions in the final 600m but was beaten just a half-neck.
Despite the Bobbie Lewis Quality result, Portelli said Rebel Dane would most likely have another crack at the straight later this Spring Racing Carnival with the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) on 9 November a target.
“I’d like to freshen up for the Patinack now and give him one more look down the straight,” Portelli said.
“We learnt a little bit out of that and he learnt a little bit as well. I’ll talk to Bossy about it but that’d be the race I’d like to finish the campaign on.”
Story by Brad Bishop