Boss delivers on Rebel Dane

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


Eclair goes Bang in Prelude

Promising South Australian gelding Eclair Big Bang proved he was a serious BECK Caulfield Guineas contender with victory in today’s $175,000 Group 3 BECK Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).

Unbeaten in his first two starts in South Australia before a last-start third placing in the Group 2 Danehill Stakes at Flemington, trainer Phillip Stokes said everything has gone perfectly to plan with the preparation so far.

“He’s always been a talented horse,” Stokes said. “We’ve brought him along slowly and his fitness is getting there.

“He still has to learnt to relax a little bit, the two weeks into the Guineas will be much better for him than the three weeks leading into today.

“I think the horse is still a preparation from showing his best but we’ll definitely press on towards the Guineas on what he did today.”

After jumping brilliantly, jockey Dom Tourneur positioned Eclair Big Bang ($13) in the box seat on the back of the early leader El Roca ($14), who went for home before the turn opening up a three length break.

Gradually wearing down the margin in the straight, Eclair Big Bang loomed up alongside El Roca at the 100 metre mark before racing away to win by just under a length.

Favourite Long John ($3) put in an extremely encouraging performance from a Caulfield Guineas point of view, flying home late to grab third narrowly behind El Roca.

Admitting he previously had queries on the son of Savabeel running out a strong 1600 metres, Tourneur said on the strength of today’s performance he should have no issues with an extra 200 metres in the Guineas.

“He’s probably shown me so far that he is more of a brilliant sort of a horse and today was the first sign that he’s shown me that he can really switch off,” Tourneur said.

“If he can find some cover early and do that again on Caulfield Guineas Day then he’s going to be right in it.”

Story by Ben Asgari


Strait on Caulfield Cup course

Bass Straight is likely to be given his shot at a double that hasn’t been completed for almost a quarter of a century after returning to the winner’s list in today’s $80,000 TMB Printing Handicap at Caulfield.

The progressive four-year-old atoned for a luckless fifth placing in the Group 2 Dao Tan Chin Nam Stakes with a dominant display in the 1700m event.

It was an effort that confirmed to Hayes that Bass Strait is on track for the BMW Caulfield Cup – in which he has just 50kg – but Hayes’ problem is gaining a start in the $2.5 million event.

The Holy Roman Emperor gelding is likely to have to win one of the ballot-exempt races at Caulfield on 12 October to get a run in the Caulfield Cup and Hayes said the 1600m Toorak Handicap – which Cole Diesel won a week before winning the 1989 Caulfield Cup – might be the most winnable option.

The others are the 2000m Caulfield Stakes, which Cox Plate favourites It’s a Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel will contest, along with the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).

“Probably the Caulfield Stakes (is the best option) but the problem is he’ll be a 95-rater racing Atlantic Jewel and It’s A Dundeel,” Hayes said. “Apart from them, though, I’d say he’ll be very competitive.

“Probably the Toorak, if he could get in, would be the way I leaned too.”

Although down in the ratings, Bass Strait looks assured of a start in the Toorak Handicap with horses entered for the BMW Caulfield Cup granted preference in the ballot.

While they encountered little luck in the straight in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, Bass Strait and gun apprentice jockey Chad Schofield always looks in control of the TMB Printing Handicap.

After stalking the leading division three horses back on the outside, Bass Strait ambled alongside the leaders entering the straight before breaking clear.

The easy $3.30 favourite, who opened at $2.80, scored by 1.5 lengths from Garud ($8.50) with Lord Durante ($10) close up in third position.

“At the halfway mark if, I could have painted the position (I wanted), Chad had him in it,” Hayes said. “It was a really good ride.

“I just loved the way that he joined in with the authority of a good horse today.”

Story by Brad Bishop


Weir Dreaming of Guineas glory

She’s Archie retired from racing almost a decade ago, but the 2003 Melbourne Cup runner-up continues to endear herself to trainer Darren Weir.

The Ballarat horseman today won the $80,000 Procal Dairies Handicap with May’s Dream, a daughter of the mare who provided Weir with his maiden Group 1 success.

He has now set his sights on bigger goals with the $500,000 Group 1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on 16 October the target for the three-year-old.

“She came along at the right time of my career,” Weir said of She’s Archie. “We’d made the move to Ballarat and spent a lot of money and then she came along which meant more horses came along.

“She was a great horse to us and it’s great to get one of her that looks like it’s got a bit of potential.

“It (the Guineas) has been the plan all along. The only little query with her is she’s a late foal, she’s a November foal and probably looking at her in the yard there doesn’t look a lot of her, so how far she gets into the campaign I’m not sure but I think she’ll get to the 1000 Guineas alright.”

May’s Dream, who is by New Approach, proved too classy in the 1400m event that two years ago was won by Atlantic Jewel.

She settled back in the field under Nick Hall, but edged into the race rounding the home bend and comfortably gathered in Bulbula, who dashed clear turning for home, before pulling away to score by more than a length. Suavito worked home nicely to claim third.

“There was a slight little concern whether there was going to be enough pace for her to be able to win the race, but she began a bit better than expected and Nick gave her a beautiful ride. She was really strong to the line,” Weir said.

Story by Ben Asgari


Australian Racehorse of the Year finalists announced

The category finalists for the 2013 Australian Racehorse of the Year Awards presented by Racing Victoria, Sky Racing World and TAB have been revealed today with a star-studded VOBIS Gold Champion Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding category among the highlights.

Glamour colts All Too Hard and Pierro will square off with star Kiwi It’s A Dundeel and Group 1-winning duo Fiveandahalfstar and Super Cool in what is shaping as one of the most intriguing categories.

The Champion Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding will be announced at the Australian Racehorse of the Year Awards at Peninsula at Docklands, Melbourne, next Thursday night, 3 October.

Seven category award winners will be unveiled before the Sky Racing World Australian Racehorse of the Year is crowned, with the ceremony to be broadcast live on Sky Racing World from 8.30pm (AET).

The night will commence with the official launch of the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, followed by a special presentation to celebrate 60 years of training by Hall Of Fame legend Bart Cummings.

The Australian Racehorse of the Year Awards are voted on by members of Australia’s racing media, along with senior administrators from the principal racing authorities and metropolitan racing clubs nationwide.

Following the collation of their votes, based on performances during the 2012-13 racing season (1 August 2012 – 31 July 2013), the top five vote-getters in each category have been announced as the finalists.

The Team Hawkes-trained All Too Hard, an impressive winner of the BECK Caulfield Guineas before a trio of Group 1 weight-for-age successes this year, and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Pierro, who added two Group 1 titles to his juvenile Triple Crown, are finalists in three categories.

The pair, along with Peter Moody-trained superstar Black Caviar, globetrotting Galaxy winner Bel Sprinter and Darley speedster Epaulette feature as finalists for the Mitchelton Wines Champion Sprinter Award.

Black Caviar won three Group 1 races during her final season on the track, including a track record-breaking victory in the Black Caviar Lightning, to extend her unbeaten streak to 25.

Bel Sprinter, who secured trainer Jason Warren’s maiden Group 1 victory in The Galaxy, was a subsequent runner-up to Hong Kong hero Lucky Nine in Singapore’s Krisflyer International Sprint while Epaulette bookended his season with Group 1 wins in the Golden Rose and the Doomben 10,000.

All Too Hard and Pierro also join another pair of multiple nominees, the Murray Baker-trained It’s A Dundeel and Australian Cup winner Super Cool, among the finalists for the Monjon Australia Champion Middle Distance Award.

It’s A Dundeel collected a quartet of Group 1 wins in the 2012-13 season, including Sydney’s three-year-old Triple Crown of the Randwick Guineas, Rosehill Guineas and ATC Derby and is joined in the Champion Middle Distance finalists list by Cox Plate-winning compatriot Ocean Park.

It’s A Dundeel’s dominant ATC Derby success also secured his place as a finalist for the TAB Champion Stayer Award alongside Anthony Cummings’ top staying three-year-old Fiveandahalfstar, whose season was headlined by Group 1 victories in the Victoria Derby and The BMW.

Popular French raider Dunaden is again a finalist thanks to his Caulfield Cup success with a pair of talented imports, Team Williams’ Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon and the Darren Weir-trained Puissance De Lune, also in the mix to be crowned Australia’s Champion Stayer.

Five top-flight fillies will battle out the New Zealand Bloodstock Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Award, with the Bart Cummings-trained Norzita the only multiple Group 1 winner among the finalists.

The daughter of Thorn Park was a dominant winner of the Flight Stakes in the Spring before returning to claim the Vinery Stud Stakes and a placing in the Doncaster Mile.

Oaks winners Royal Descent and Dear Demi were also recognised for their dominant staying performances with Coolmore Stud Stakes hero Nechita and regally-bred Thousand Guineas winner Commanding Jewel rounding out the finalists.

Golden Slipper winner Overreach and fairytale Blue Diamond heroine Miracles Of Life are joined by a Peter Snowden-trained trio, including dual Group 1-winning filly Guelph as well as Safeguard and Sidestep, as the finalists for the Eliza Park Champion Two-Year-old Award.

Ciaron Maher’s defending champion Bashboy heads the finalists for the Champion Jumper Award, while the Champion Group 1 Trainer and Jockey as well as the Champion Sire Award will also be presented during the evening.

The category finalists, in alphabetical order, are as follows;

Eliza Park Champion Two-Year-Old Award Finalists

· Guelph

· Miracles Of Life

· Overreach

· Safeguard

· Sidestep

New Zealand Bloodstock Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Award Finalists

· Commanding Jewel

· Dear Demi

· Nechita

· Norzita

· Royal Descent

VOBIS Gold Champion Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding Award Finalists

· All Too Hard

· Fiveandahalfstar

· It’s A Dundeel

· Pierro

· Super Cool

Mitchelton Wines Champion Sprinter Award Finalists

· All Too Hard

· Bel Sprinter

· Black Caviar

· Epaulette

· Pierro

Monjon Australia Champion Middle Distance Award Finalists

· All Too Hard

· It’s A Dundeel

· Ocean Park

· Pierro

· Super Cool

TAB Champion Stayer Award Finalists

· Dunaden

· Fiveandahalfstar

· Green Moon

· It’s A Dundeel

· Puissance De Lune

Champion Jumper Award Finalists

· Banna Strand

· Bashboy

· Black And Bent

· Gotta Take Care

· Maythehorsebemagic