The Gary Portelli stable continued a great run of success with their juveniles at Canterbury on Wednesday with a front running victory for Lipizzan, a $120,000 Inglis Easter purchase for Laurel Oak Bloodstock from the Newhaven Park draft.

A brave second in the Listed Woodlands Stud Stakes at Scone when resuming from a spell, Lipizzan was sent out favourite for this 1100 metre maiden despite drawing near the outside.

Ridden forward by apprentice Rachel King, the daughter of Sebring quickly worked across to lead and was never headed to win by a length and a quarter.

“She’s always shown a lot of potential,” said Gary Portelli.

“She drew wide at Scone and fought on strongly, so I always thought if she dropped back to a midweek race she could just win.

“She’s a BOBS filly, so now we’ll try and win as much prizemoney with her as we can.”

With a win and three placings, Lipizzan has already won over $70,000 for her large group of Laurel Oak Bloodstock owners.

The 13th two year-old winner this season for Sebring, Lipizzan was bred by Laurel Oak in partnership and is the first winner for Absolutely Flying, a Commands three-quarter sister to Group III winner Camporella.

News from Breednet

The successful racing career of Rebel Dane, a dual Group 1 winning entire, has concluded and a new phase as a stallion at Swettenham Stud this spring now awaits.

While the team at Swettenham Stud is full of excitement at the arrival of the stunning seven-year-old, it has been a sad past week for all at Portelli Racing as they said goodbye to their stable favourite.

It was evident by the way Portelli spoke about his old champ, that there was a real sense of respect and awe, looking back at what this horse has accomplished throughout his career.

“He was such great flag bearer for the stables, a great booster to staff morale racing at Group level each carnival, and the old saying rings true “you don’t know what you miss till it’s gone,” Portelli said.

“Horses like him don’t come around very often, not with his record. He has more wins and placings at Group 1 and 2 level than what most horses going to stud have had starts,” Portelli said.

“He raced the best, at the highest level, season after season, he couldn’t dodge them, he always put up a fight. He is a genuine Group 1 horse, he raced and beat the best horses in the country.”

“He is a war horse, he has finished sound, he never had an issue, a real trainers horse.”

“I hope he sets the trend for breeders to appreciate well-campaigned, well performed and proven gallopers, and the advantages of breeding to them.”

Louis Mihalyka of Laurel Oak Bloodstock, Rebel Dane’s managing owner, reflected on his career and is excited about his future as a successful stallion.

“Having a horse race in Group 1 or 2 company for over 30 starts is an owner’s dream. The fact he was competitive virtually every time he raced made it even more special,” Mihalyka said.

“The Manikato Stakes win was the highlight as there were nine Group One winners in the ten horse field. Once he drew well we knew he had a chance and the fact he delivered was a magic moment in life for all of us.

“Bred on a Danehill/More Than Ready cross, he has the pedigree to go with his looks and soundness, to be as good at stud as he was on the racetrack. We are really looking forward to the next stage of his career.”

Rebel Dane will stand for the a fee of $12,500 (incl. GST)

News: TBV

Adam Sangster of Swettenham Stud and the owners of Rebel Dane are delighted to announce that the dual Group One-winning stallion will stand at Swettenham Stud from the 2017 season.

Rebel Dane will continue his racing career over the coming weeks in a number of Group One options that will be available to him in Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide before the curtain comes down on a magnificent racing career.

Rebel Dane has raced in top-class company for the majority of his career and his last 30 starts have been in Group One or Group Two company, a testament to his ability and his soundness. Since his 4th career start he has not raced below Group 3 company.

rebel-dane-manikato-4

His Group Ones win have come in the Manikato Stakes and the Rupert Clarke Stakes. After his magnificent win in the $1million WFA Manikato Stakes last October Rebel Dane contested the Hong Kong International Sprint, where he was beaten just over four lengths after a wide run in a race that was rated one of the best International Sprints in 2016.

He has been a high-class racehorse for several seasons and the opportunity to stand him at Swettenham Stud was enthusiastically accepted by Rebel Dane’s owners. Louis Mihalyka of Laurel Oak Bloodstock, Rebel Dane’s managing owner reported ‘Standing Rebel Dane in Victoria was a natural fit as the horse has won his two Group Ones there and a number of Victorian Studs expressed interest in him. The opportunity to stand him at Swettenham is simply a bonus as they are one of the leading stud farms in Victoria with a wonderful reputation and  a well-established client base that will give Rebel Dane the opportunity for a successful stud career.’

Adam Sangster was equally enthusiastic. ‘The opportunity to access a dual Group One-winning sprinter is rare for Victorian breeders, especially the winner of one of our iconic sprint races the Manikato Stakes. We were keen to get the stallion for Swettenham Stud and Victoria and were delighted when the owners agreed. He will provide Victorian breeders the opportunity to access a sound, high-class sprinter bred on the successful Danehill/More Than Ready cross that will compliment Swettenham’s existing stallion roster and be ideal for SuperVOBIS.

Trainer Gary Portelli was also effusive in his praise. ‘Rebel Dane has been an incredible horse over the past five years for me competing at an elite level every start. His speed, temperament, and courage were matched by his soundness. I can’t wait to be training his progeny.”

Rebel Dane’s career earnings to date are over $2.4m and his wins aside from his Group One victories include the Group 2 The Shorts, Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes and Group 3 Show County. He has also been placed nine times in Group One or Two company highlighting what an exceptional sprinter he is.

By California Dane, Rebel Dane is bred on the Danehill/More Than Ready cross and as a Group One sprinter should make an exceptional SuperVOBIS stallion.

A service fee for the upcoming breeding season will be announced shortly.

News from Swettenham Stud

Dual Gr1 winner Rebel Dane is not only preparing for the richest race of his career but he’s also eyeing a stud career from the 2017 breeding season.

The Gary Portelli trained 7YO is looking in the finest form of his career, fresh from a convincing win in the prestigious Gr1 Manikato Stakes and preparing for the Gr1 Hong Kong Sprint on 11 December. On his return to

On his return to Australia he’ll be set for the Gr1 TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick in April, with a Queensland campaign an option after that. Louis Mihalyka,

Louis Mihalyka, syndicate manager at Laurel Oak Bloodstock, says Rebel Dane’s owners would support him, but don’t have large-scale broodmare holdings to stand him themselves.

“The owners are now considering options out of the Hunter Valley mainstream and believe Rebel Dane’s next step will be better suited to studs in Victoria, Queensland, New Zealand, South Australia, Western Australia or Tasmania,” Mihalyka said. “His last 27 starts have all been in Group One or Two company which is a testimony to his ability.”

He added: “Until now Rebel Dane has stayed in training as his earning potential on the racecourse has exceeded the value of offers received for him. The time has now come to find a stud position for this high-quality racehorse.” Mihalyka estimates a stud could successfully stand him at around $8,000, which would make him an attractive and worthwhile investment in the $1.2 million to $1.5 million range.

“Of course, if he can achieve further success in Hong Kong, his reputation and appeal will be further enhanced.”

Rebel Dane is breathing a lot easier these days and so is his trainer.

Gary Portelli credits a successful throat operation and a change in his training methods with getting the horse back to Group One-winning form which he hopes he can transfer to the big stage in Hong Kong.

Rebel Dane’s win in the Manikato Stakes earned him an invitation to the International Sprint at Sha Tin on December 11.

The seven-year-old will tune up for the trip with a barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday which will be held on the course proper as a mark of respect for Australia’s lone representative at this year’s showcase meeting in Hong Kong.

Rebel Dane took three years from his first Group One win in the Rupert Clarke Stakes to win his second with many near misses in between.

‘He can breathe normally now and he turns up on race day,’ Portelli said.

‘And I’ve got no doubt the way we are training him has helped. He has gone over a few jumps and we’ve been taking him to the beach and the change of scenery has sharpened him up.

‘At the moment he is the best I’ve had him this deep into a preparation.

‘He’s vibrant and happy and has four sound joints which is always a plus.’

Portelli has no concerns about how Rebel Dane will handle the trip to Hong Kong on December 4, a week before the big race.

‘He’s done many trips to Melbourne and Brisbane on a float so I think a plane to Hong Kong will be much easier,’ he said.

‘There are no traffic lights or turns. It will be a breeze.’

A seven-year-old, Rebel Dane has earned more than $2.4 million but attempts to find a suitable home at stud have so far come to nothing.

And if a stud can’t be found, Portelli is more than happy to keep him in his Warwick Farm stable.

‘He’s part of the furniture and I hate to think about the day he retires,’ he said.

‘I’d be happy to keep training him for another year.’

A field of six will take part in Tuesday’s 1000m barrier trial.

News from AAP Racing

Gary Portelli, some 25 years ago, was dreaming of training racehorses in the ‘big smoke’ as he worked the nightshift, making pies at a bakery in Orange, a country town 254 kilometres west of the New South Wales state capital, Sydney.

That dream became a reality in 1996 when the man who brings recent Group 1 winner Rebel Dane to Hong Kong for December’s LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint set up stables at Warwick Farm, which is still fundamentally west of Sydney but more than 200 kilometres closer.

Ten years earlier, the seven-year-old stallion’s managing owner Louis Mihalyka set his dream in place when he abandoned the security of his career as an accountant – also in Sydney – to take on the much more fickle and fanciful world of horse racing by establishing Laurel Oak Bloodstock.

“I loved racing from my mid-teens. I worked as a chartered accountant for twelve years after leaving school but left the day before my thirtieth birthday; went on an overseas holiday for seven months and started Laurel Oak on my return, which I had really planned even before I left the accounting job,” Mihalyka.


Interestingly, Mihalyka – who bred Rebel Dane – recalls that he wasn’t the only young man then employed with Coopers & Lybrand with a passion for horse racing.

“In 1981, when I moved to Coopers (& Lybrand) there was a young university graduate in my audit group. The young graduate was John Camilleri, who bred the champion mare Winx, so that audit group provided the breeders of the two Group 1 winners at the Cox Plate meeting 35 years later,” he said.

This year’s HKIR will certainly not be Mihalyka’s first encounter with Hong Kong racing. Each year, he manages a tour group of enthusiastic owners and racegoers generally affiliated with his racing and bloodstock business, to the December meeting at Sha Tin.

Indeed it will not be his first visit as an owner. Laurel Oak had an interest in Into The Night who was beaten seven and a quarter lengths into ninth placing behind the all-conquering Silent Witness in the 2003 Hong Kong Sprint and Mihalyka is looking forward to having another ‘crack’ at the sprint title.

“Everybody loves travelling to Hong Kong, I certainly do and this year we come with an in-form horse. I understand it’s no easy task to go there and win but Rebel Dane is a very good horse and generally underrated. His asset has always been his devastating dash. He can really sprint for 150 to 200 metres and if he gets the right run in the race, as he did at Moonee Valley, then he can be very effective,” he said in reference to his 21 October Manikato Stakes win.

Mihalyka said that to win an international race with Rebel Dane would be especially significant. “We started Laurel Oak with our first horse in January 1986 and had our first winner in June 1987, which was Georgian Gold who is the great grandmother of Rebel Dane, so there’s a great history with this horse,” he said.

As to Portelli, his dream has materialised in the shape of major races wins from Group 1 sprints with Rebel Dane and Gold Trail to an ATC Oaks success with Rena’s Lady and this too will not be his first racing trip beyond home shores.

It was Gold Trail with whom he travelled in 2010 – going to New Zealand, Singapore and England: the gelding won the G1 Railway Stakes, ran fourth in the G1 KrisFlyer International Sprint and was 10th in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes.


“I’m really looking forward to going (to Hong Kong). It will be a great experience. The horse is in great form, he couldn’t have come through his last run any better and we think he can be competitive.

“I’ve spoken to Michael Hawkes who went over with Chautauqua earlier this year, to get some insight into how things work in the quarantine stables and he’s been great. You go somewhere new and it’s wise to get as much help as you can.

“Back in those days in Orange, in between riding some track work and working at the bakery, I certainly dreamed of going to Sydney to train but I couldn’t have imagined that overseas travel with a horse was ever going to happen. But here we are, bound for Hong Kong and my feeling is ‘why not, let’s have a go,’” Portelli said.

Steve Moran,
Hong Kong Jockey Club

It was probably the last thing Louis Mihalyka wanted to hear as he sat eating his lunch last Friday.

Attending a special Cox Plate eve function, Mihalyka listened on as MC, Steve Moran discussed Rebel Dane’s chances in the Group One William Hill Manikato Stakes that night.

Moran pointed out that Rebel Dane’s previous three efforts in the Manikato had seen him miss out by a cumulative 3.2 lengths … costing Laurel Oak and connections some $1.6 million in earnings. Moran actually said he thought Rebel Dane was good value at the odds, given his record in the race, and now that he had drawn a good barrier.

Turned out to be quite prescient as Rebel Dane – who was bred by the Laurel Oak Texarcana Syndicate and is part-owned by Mihalyka’s Laurel Oak Bloodstock – got up in a thriller. Hugging the rail throughout, Rebel Dane surged to the lead turning for home and had enough left in the tank to hold off a fast finishing Fell Swoop.

“That was a terrific thrill after having finished fifth, fourth and third with the horse in the last three Manikatos,” Mihalyka points out. “Seriously, this horse has had to contend with some absolutely diabolical barrier draws throughout his career: amongst them he drew 10 of 11 in the Doomben 10,000 and finished less than a length off the winner, jumped from 18 in a field of 18 in the Stradbroke and got beaten just on two lengths … he’s a much better horse than has been given credit for and has top four finishes in 20 black type races.”

The Manikato lowered the colours on two of racing’s superstars in Chautauqua and Buffering, with the former out until autumn and the latter retiring after a brilliant career that produced seven Group One victories and over $7.3 million in stakes.

However, Mihalyka reveals that no immediate plans have been made for Rebel Dane. “As for what happens from here, I’ll have to talk it over with (trainer) Gary Portelli,” Mihalyka adds. “He might be spelled until autumn, but I also got a call from Hong Kong at 7.55am on Sunday about him running in the big sprint race at Sha Tin in December and he’d had his (inoculation) shots by 8.30am!

“It’s very tempting to try and follow Australian-bred sprinters like Chautauqua, Sacred Kingdom, Silent Witness, Absolute Champion and co. that have raced to Group One success in Hong Kong, but we’re really just keeping our options open at this stage.”

Given that Laurel Oak is the Australasian agent for Brain Pedigree Analysis, Mihalyka was quick to add that Rebel Dane is a “Brain mating” but agreed – on paper – that the pedigree page was unfashionable. Indeed, apart from Rebel Dane, black type is almost non-existent in the first five dams.

“Georgian Gold, Rebel Dane’s third dam, was actually our first Laurel Oak winner back in 1987,” Mihalyka recalls. “She ran nine consecutive city placings at one stage and eventually won five races – three of those in town – so we decided to send her to stud.

“Her second foal, March To The Sea, was with Kerry Jordan who had a high opinion of him and thought he was stakes class. He won five. The half-brother, Rustaveli, won three as well but a promising career was cut short by injury.

“Same with Rebel Dane’s dam, Texarcana, who won three races but was more talented than her ultimate record showed and her career was cut short by equine influenza. It’s not a commercial pedigree by any stretch but it has a lot of very good city-class horses.

“Funnily enough, when we did the Brain mating that resulted in Rebel Dane, it came up with two options … California Dane and another Hunter Valley stallion.

“When we tried to book into the other one we were told that the mare’s pedigree wasn’t good enough so we went to California Dane.”

HOOFNOTE: It has been a big week for Laurel Oak with another of its home-breds in Maygrove winning the Listed Jakkalberry Classic at Rotorua on 15 October, while Rebel Dane’s Manikato Stakes was followed up by Sir Bacchus winning the lucky last, giving Mihalyka a running double at Moonee Valley’s premier night meeting.

By Sebring out of the Encosta de Lago mare, Bacchanal Woman, Sir Bacchus is raced in partnership by Laurel Oak and was purchased by Mihalyka at the 2014 Magic Millions National Yearling Sale for $130,000.

“The breeder (Lockyer Thoroughbreds) is a Brain client and the yearling was a really nice type and, as it turns out, a very good racehorse.”

Story: Aushorse