Exceltic (Excelebration) is the horse Gary Portelli believes is his best chance for back-to-back Golden Slipper wins but he admits he faces a tough assignment at his first start.
The colt is one of five acceptors for Saturday’s Canonbury Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill but standing in his way of a debut victory is the Chris Waller-trained Performer, winner of the Breeders’ Plate in October.
Performer is the TAB’s second favourite for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper on March 24 and odds-on to win the Canonbury.
But as Performer has eased from $1.50 to $1.60, Exceltic has been backed from $4.60 to $3.80 to upset the Chris Waller-trained colt.
Exceltic’s debut has been delayed more than once with Portelli taking care to make sure he is at his best for his first start.
He decided not to run him in the Breeders’ Plate and opted to take him out of a race last week, sensing he was not quite as he wanted him.
“He has won all three of his trials and I have a lot of time for him,” Portelli said.
“It’s a big ask to go up against Performer but it will give us a guide where we are.”
Exceltic sports the white, green and red colours carried by the Portelli-trained dual Group One winner Rebel Dane who has just completed his first season at stud.
The next chapter of the successful partnership between Gary Portelli’s stable and Laurel Oak Bloodstock is begging to be written by superbly bred debutant Picaro at Randwick on Saturday.
Pierro’s strapping two-year-old son will contest the Tab Handicap (1200m) after an impressive trial, with Portelli eyeing off a start in the rich Karaka Million at Ellerslie Racecourse on January 28 should Picaro impress this weekend.
Picaro is out of group 3-winning mare Sookie, and Portelli is hopeful the link with Laurel Oak will deliver his yard more success following the recent retirement of their most successful venture, Rebel Dane.
He was a two-time group 1 winner and, while hoping to follow in his footsteps might be a tad ambitious, Portelli said Picaro had enough ability to carve his own reputation at the race track following his second to Burbank in a pre-Christmas trial.
“The winner of Waller’s is a pretty good horse,” Portelli said.
“There’s a big rap on him apparently, the winner of the trial, they like him a lot, he’s got ability. We’re looking forward at seeing [Picaro] run on Saturday.
“Our guy has always shown ability, out of a good mare Sookie, fantastic family.
“He’s got a good [pedigree] page, he was bought in New Zealand by Louis Mihalyka from Laurel Oak Bloodstock and we’ve had a lot of luck with Louis over the years.
“This bloke will go to New Zealand for the Karaka two-year-old race if he was to win this race or run second, he’d qualify to get into that million-dollar race at the end of January, so we’ll see how we go Saturday.”
Warwick Farm-based Portelli will unleash several two-year-old debutants in the coming weeks as he declares his hand for this year’s Golden Slipper, which he won last year with She Will Reign.
He rates Golden Gift (1100m) winner Secret Lady as the best of his juveniles so far this year, while Perfect Pitch, a Pierro filly also raced by Laurel Oak, won a race at Rosehill last month.
“Secret Lady’s probably the one that’s the best of them at the moment but we’ve had a few trial probably in the last week or so that go all right,” Portelli said.
“Next few weeks we’ll hopefully unearth something.
“I particularly like to train the two and three-year-olds, I put a lot of time into their programs and their preparations and their feed and the trackwork riders put a lot of work into educating them properly and having them do everything right on race day.
“It goes a long way, particularly if you’ve got a horse that’s bred to be [a performer at] two, you’ve got to make sure you give them every opportunity to race.
“With a bigger stable you probably can’t because you’ve got too many older horses in your stable. We’ve got two and three-year-olds but not too many older horses.”
Meanwhile, She Will Reign will resume in the Inglis Sprint (1100m) at Warwick Farm on February 10 before heading to Caulfield to contest the $500,000 group 1 Oakleigh Plate.
She hasn’t raced since failing in the Everest.
Opie Bosson is the new rider for last-start Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m) winner and Laurel Oak bred Maygrove in Saturday’s Group 3 SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m) at Te Rapa.
The champion jockey takes over from Johnathan Parkes, who was aboard the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Authorized seven-year-old for his wins in the Feilding Cup (2100m) and Counties Cup, who is ruled out on Saturday feature through suspension.
Bosson, who married Trackside presenter Emily Murphy since last riding, returns to riding at Tauranga on Friday.
“I’m looking forward to getting back. I’m a bit hungry actually and I’m looking forward to riding Maygrove again. He was tough at Pukekohe last time and he knows how to win a Cup,” said Bosson, who began a suspension on November 18.
“I need to win a couple — after all, I’ve got a wife to support now.”
The Gary Portelli trained PERFECT PITCH was slowly away on debut last month when chasing home promising filly Gongs for third on debut at Canterbury, but took plenty of improvement from that outing in both fitness and experience.
She raced up on the pace for Rachel King and fought on tenaciously to claim a head win in the 1100 metre dash over the favourite Miss Invincible.
Perfect Pitch was a $100,000 Magic Millions purchase from the Southern Cross Breeders draft for Laurel Oak Bloodstock in whose colours she runs.
Gary Portelli has intimate knowledge of Perfect Pitch, having trained the mother Absolutely Flying and half-sister Lipizzan for Laurel Oak Bloodstock.
“I was pretty confident coming into today but no one wanted to talk about this filly,” Portelli said.
“She had no luck at Canterbury, I think she should have finished a lot closer to the winner and she’d come on since the run.
“What you saw today is probably just a taste of what’s going to come.
“She’s got a real stayer’s action for mine and I think she’s going to be a nice three-year-old later on so I probably wouldn’t push onto the Magic Millions.”
Perfect Pitch is the second winner from Absolutely Flying, a placed Commands three-quarter sister to Group II winner Camporella from stakes-winner Really Flying.
Coolmore’s Golden Slipper winning son of Lonhro is the leading Australian Second Crop sire with 18 winners of over $2.1 million highlighted by four stakes-winners Pinot, Levendi, Kentucky Breeze and Satin Slipper.
A $110,000 purchase at the Select Sale at Karaka, the Laurel Oak-bred, lion-hearted stayer Maygrove (Authorized) is becoming a king of New Zealand’s Cup races.
The gutsy grey’s trophy cabinet already included the Group 2 Wellington Cup (2400m), Group 2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m), Listed Feilding Gold Cup (2100m) and Listed Jakkalberry Classic (1950m), and on Saturday he struck again in the $100,000 Group 3 Ssangyong Counties Cup (2100m) at Pukekohe.
A victim of his own success, Maygrove’s high rating has earned him a 60-kilogram topweight in the Fielding Gold Cup and Counties Cup in his last two appearances. But it hasn’t been enough to stop him.
Trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and ridden by Johnathan Parkes, Maygrove sat in a handy position before surging into contention in the straight.
In a desperate three-horse battle down the straight with lighter-weighted rivals Five To Midnight (NZ) (Domesday) and Promise To Reign (Manhattan Rain), Maygrove refused to surrender and lunged at the line to win by a short head.
“He’s a cracker horse, having to carry the 60 kilograms,” Parkes said. “He’s been headed about 100 metres out, but he’s kept giving in a super effort.”
Raced by Lib Petagna’s JML Bloodstock Ltd in partnership with Patrick O’Rourke, Maygrove has now won nine of his 48 starts and more than $470,000 in prize-money.
“He’s a star,” Petagna’s bloodstock manager Bruce Perry said. “He’s so game, he’s brilliant. He’s great for everyone to be a part of.”
News from New Zealand Bloodstock
MONASTERIO followed a similar path to Bid Of Faith in that he ran an encouraging fifth first-up, was placed second-up, and then won impressively third-up.
Second-up from a spell at Doomben, Monasterio drew the outside gate and had to go back to last in a 1600m race. Jockey Matthew Cahill was continually held up getting a run, and had to pick his way through the field, but when clear Monasterio motored to the line for a very good second that made many of the horses to follow analyses.
On the strength of that impressive run, trainer Chris Waller decided that another run in the same grade over the same distance on the same track would suit him well, but once he drew wide again our optimism diminished. On this occasion though Matthew Cahill was able to push his way to the outside so Monasterio had clear running and once again he motored to the line, this time reeling the six-length deficit on the home corner to record an emphatic victory.
We expect him to be better suited over further, and Chris is yet to decide whether he will run over 2000m on 9 December at either Doomben or Rosehill, or wait till 16 December for another 1600m run at Doomben.
Coming back from a long injury layoff, BID OF FAITH put the writing on the wall with an encouraging second-up placing at Moruya in October. Third-up this Keith Dryden/Scott Collings-trained mare won impressively at Canberra on Melbourne Cup Day.
Ridden by Brendan Ward, she settled well back in the field and gave them a good start on straightening, but powered to the line to score an emphatic win. There was much celebration in Canberra where she was one of a winning treble for the stable.
There was also plenty of cheering at Flemington where a number of the owners were in our party in the Panorama Restaurant.
She appears to be in good form going forward, and was scratched from a strong race at Goulburn last Sunday due to a wide gate, and runs again this afternoon (Friday 1 December) in Canberra, but has a wide gate to contend with again, so will need a lot of luck.
Australian-bred Maygrove returned to the top of his game at Awapuni in New Zealand on Saturday, capturing the Listed Feilding Gold Cup over 2100m in a gutsy performance.
Winner of four stakes races across the ditch, Maygrove has been out of the winners’ circle since October last year, but fought back strongly when challenged in the Gold Cup.
Having no luck at his most recent outing in the Listed Rotorua Challenge Plate, when second up from a spell, Maygrove had to overcome a wide draw at Awapuni, taking up the lead 600m from home and then holding on gamely.
“He (Maygrove) had to overcome the draw and a big weight (59kgs), but it was a tough effort from the horse,” an admiring trainer, Andrew Forsman, said after the race.
The flashy grey is something of a crowd favourite in New Zealand and has now compiled eight wins – including the Group Two Wellington Cup and Group Two Awapuni Cup – and 15 placings from 47 starts for over NZ$400,000 in stakes.
Now a 7YO, Maygrove was bred in NSW by the Laurel Oak Lady Zhivago Syndicate, which is managed by leading bloodstock agent, Louis Mihalyka.
“We’ve always had an opinion of Maygrove and were actually the underbidders when he sold to Bruce Perry Bloodstock for NZ$110,000 as a yearling,” Mihalyka points out. “He is by the former Darley stallion, Authorized: a son of Montjeu who won the 2007 Epsom Derby. John O’Shea really liked the horse at the time and said to me that he wanted to train him, but obviously the other mob were keen to buy him too.
“Laurel Oak raced Maygrove’s mother, Lady Zhivago, which we’d purchased at Easter for $120,000 and she ended up winning a couple in Sydney and a VRC race at Bendigo.”
HOOFNOTE: Mihalyka has an interesting story as to how Maygrove got his name.
“When he was being sold as a yearling, some people from a local rest home were there at the sale for a day out. Maybe they liked him because he was a grey, but anyway the new owner got wind of it and decided to name the horse after their rest home … Maygrove. Evidently they now take a bus load to the races to follow the horse whenever he goes around.”
News from Aushorse
Bought for $110,000 at Karaka in 2012, accomplished stayer Maygrove (Authorized) took his prizemoney earnings to almost four times that amount with another tenacious performance in Saturday’s $50,000 Listed Ricoh Feilding Gold Cup (2100m) at Awapuni.
Ridden by Johnathan Parkes for Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, Maygrove trailed the early leader and then made his move as the field rounded the home turn.
The grey kicked away and opened up a clear advantage, then stuck to his guns under 59 kilograms to win by a long neck.
Raced by Lib Petagna’s JML Bloodstock in partnership with Patrick O’Rourke, Maygrove has now had 47 starts for eight wins, 12 placings and just over $409,000 in prizemoney. This was his fourth stakes win, having previously won the Group 2 Wellington Cup and Awapuni Gold Cup along with the Listed Jakkalberry Classic.
Maygrove was bred by the Laurel Oak Lady Zhivago Syndicate.
Copy: NZB, Image: Maygrove claiming the Listed Ricoh Feilding Gold Cup – Race Images PNth
I love an interim bulletin edition of Grandstand View. It means we have a winner or have other good news to report.
Sikhing Glory made it three in a row when he won at Warwick Farm last Wednesday.
We will also take this opportunity of an interim bulletin to rectify a ‘wrong’ of last week. When the October edition of Grandstand View went out it turned out that the links to the last three articles were chopped off. These included ‘New names’ and ‘Links to additional information’ which included the Summary of Laurel Oak Horses and Social Calendar.
It turns out that this was due to the length of the newsletter so we will be watching that in the future. (Hooray I hear you say!)
These stories and links are included here again.
I have just returned from my 24th consecutive Cox Plate. Over that time we have seen some sensational races and some great horses, but none better than Winx over those years. It was an absolute pleasure to see her complete her Cox Plate treble, albeit slightly more nervously than expected. Not quite the jangled nerves of Black Caviar’s Royal Ascot win though!
Sikhing Glory Hat-Trick
Winning hat-tricks are difficult for horses. It may not seem so when referring to Winx and her 22 straight wins and Cox Plate hat-trick. But for the more humble steed the handicapping system is designed to even things out to make that more difficult.
So were extra-delighted when Sikhing Glory completed his winning hat-trick at his first attempt at city racing when he won really well at Warwick Farm last Wednesday.
Trainer Joe Pride had worked out the best riding pattern for the horse – on pace but with cover – and at his last two starts Jay Ford has executed that perfectly. Sikhing Glory had a good trail to the corner but was pocketed entering the straight, but once the run appeared he stretched out beautifully to record a strong win.
From here his next start is planned for Rosehill on 11 November over 1100m before heading for a well-earned break to mature a little more.
Bred by the Laurel Oak Soul Diva Syndicate Sikhing Glory has now recorded four wins and three placings for his last seven starts for career earnings of $84,780.
Sentiment and luck played a large part in the Rebel Dane story, but once he got to the track, the horse did the rest. He proved one of our best sprinters for several seasons and now there’s every reason to believe he will make a success of his new career at stud.
Bluebloods’ David Bay takes a look at Rebel Dane in his July Stallion Profile. Click the below image to view the complete article.
Vaucluse Bay (Al Maher) added a second victory on the day for Waller when he impressively took out a Benchmark 85 (2000m) at Rosehill.
The rising four-year-old gelding came into the race having won a Benchmark 74 (1800m) at the track on 15 July and yesterday he defeated More Than Fabulous (More Than Ready) by four lengths with just a short head back to Life O’Brien (High Chaparral) in third.
“He’s come of age this preparation. Today was by far his most impressive win,” Waller said.
“It was a typical Corey Brown ride, 10 out of 10. He found the right spot and makes it a lot easier for horses. He should win another race based on that pretty quick. We’ll look for a race in two weeks. If not, we’ll go three weeks.”
Bred by the Laurel Oak Power Of Love Syndicate, we would like to congratulate the winning connections of Vaucluse Bay; Mr S P Grant, Laurel Oak Bloodstock Pty Ltd, Mrs E K Grant, Mr K Grant, Mr G J Grant, Mr M Lamens, Mrs J A Gazal, Ms L A Green, Mrs L T Malouf, Mrs S Bishop, Mrs M L Bekier, Mrs L Lamens, Mrs H A Szangolies, Mrs A J Cobcroft, Mrs E C Walker, Mr D J Gazal
AccelHaving been knocking on the door in his three runs prior, Accelerato completely bulldozed it down this afternoon at Bendigo to break his maiden in emphatic style for Mornington-based trainer Tony Noonan.
Making the win even sweeter was the $28,400 VOBIS bonuses attached to the race which Noonan handsomely collected for long-term stable clients at Laurel Oak Bloodstock.
“With Super VOBIS and Gold VOBIS bonuses, this race is worth $51,000 which is hard to get,” said Noonan.
“ He has been disappointing on occasions but Brad (Rawiller) was able to just get a sit in behind, settle well and have a good kick.
By applying a slight change of tactics, Noonan was quietly confident that Accelerato was in for a change of fortunes if things unraveled as planned.
“He’s just been over-racing in his races and racing on nervous energy. We tried hard to get him into a position where he can take a sit.
We’ve worked hard on that at home with good results so today worked out good.”
Jumping well from the gates, Rawiller took hold of Accelerato behind a moderate tempo as Legal Mistress crossed from a wide barrier to provide cover for the 3-year-old son of Fastnet Rock who had led in is three runs prior.
Tracking through the bend well, a gap opened for Rawiller upon straightening as Accelerato ($4.20) effortlessly quickned under quiet riding before opening up a big margin to score by 7 lengths from Aquifer Mist ($21) and Legal Mistress ($15).
“Looking at the race, I’d expected we probably would be the leader but Tony was happy if something would go quick enough, we’d be able to get a sit as it worked out,” said Rawiller after the win.
“He had a good turn of foot so when we got the split, he was just too good.”
Having run placings in the three starts prior, Accelerato’s maiden win today took his earnings to $54,525 at his sixth career start.
News from Tony Noonan Racing
He might not have won as many two-year-old races as some of the bigger stables this season but Gary Portelli can still claim bragging rights with the performances of She Will Reign capped by her Golden Slipper triumph.
While Lindsay Park, Godolphin, Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott and Peter and Paul Snowden lead the charge for juvenile winners, Portelli has racked up 10 including the biggest of all.
She Will Reign won four races while Laurel Oak Bloodstock’s Lipizzan can make it three when she steps out at Warwick Farm on Saturday along with stablemate Nicci’s Gold who broke her maiden at Newcastle last month.
Portelli will return later this week from a short break in New Zealand for a rare Saturday meeting on his home track.
“Lipizzan has always shown ability and her form on wet tracks is a bonus at this time of year,” Portelli said.
“Rachel King will ride her again. She’s won two on her and we get to use her claim.
“Nicci’s Gold has been a little revelation.
“We didn’t expect her to win over 900 metres at Newcastle and then she’s come out and run second on the Beaumont track up there over older horses.
“I’ve always been pretty keen on her.”
Comeback jockey Josh Adams has ridden Nicci’s Gold at her past two starts and will again be aboard on Saturday when she runs over 1200 metres.
Sydney’s champion apprentice in 2010/11, Adams spent three years out of the limelight undergoing rehabilitation while serving a disqualification for a positive drug swab.
He returned to race riding earlier this year and made his first trip to Sydney on June 10 when he steered The Monstar to win the Listed June Stakes.
There were 13 entries taken on Monday for the two-year-old race including the Snowden-trained Star Galaxy who finished third to Lipizzan at Randwick on June 24.
While the two Portelli-trained fillies are trying to gain more late-season prize money, She Will Reign has returned to the stable after a break to be prepared for a two-run campaign with the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley the proposed lead-in to The Everest at Randwick in October.
“She is so small, she is only 420kg but has a heart the size of her body.’’
This was trainer Gary Portelli’s description of the two-year-old filly — and he wasn’t talking about his Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign, either.
Portelli made the comment after Lipizzan scored a dominant win in the McGrath Estate Agents Plate (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
“From the first time we started working her she showed ability but I thought this might be short-lived because she is only little,’’ the trainer said. “Even when you put a saddle on her, she seems dopey and quiet, she looks like she is not interested.
“But as soon as you walk her out to the tie-up stalls, she puffs her chest out, tries to grow a hand and puts her game face on. She is all racehorse.’’
Lipizzan ($4.80) was having her sixth start for the season, scoring her second win (plus four minor placings) when she raced away from early leader Last Starfighter ($3.50 favourite) to win by nearly three lengths with Star Galaxy ($3.60) three-quarters of a length away third.
Portelli is renowned as a master trainer of juveniles and revealed he has won 10 two-year-old races this season from a team of only 17 youngsters. “We still have a couple more to come out to the races in the next few weeks, too,’’ Portelli said.
Portelli said he won’t necessarily send Lipizzan to the spelling paddock after her latest win.
“I’m a great believer that when fillies are racing well, you keep them going,’’ he said.
“She is showing no signs of training and the prizemoney with the BOBs bonuses is so good — she has picked up $74,000 for her owners today.
“I will see how she comes through this race before making any decisions but on what she showed today, we might be able to find another race for her over winter.’’
News: Ray Thomas – Daily Telegraph, Image: Simon Bullard
There is not a lot of Sebring filly Lipizzan but as Gary Portelli said after she took out the opener at Randwick – “she has a heart as big as her body.”
The two-year-old was put in a perfect trailing spot by in form apprentice Rachel King and Lipizzan did the rest, surging past leader and race favourite Last Starfighter.
“None try harder than her,” Portelli said.
“She had 52kg on her back, she is fit horse and never runs a bad race. She is a great little horse for Laurel Oak syndications – they bred the horse. I raced her mother too. She is bred to handle the wet being by Sebring by a Commands mare so it’s a good time to have her in.”
Lipizzan, who has never missed a place in her six starts, which includes two wins, only tips the scales at 420kg and is only 14’2 in height.
“She has a heart as big as her body,” Portelli said. “It just goes to show that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
“There is a little bit of upside to her and next preparation I think we might see a really handy filly.”
The victory made it four straight Saturdays in which two kilo claimer King, who is apprenticed to Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, has ridden a winner.
“She has done a good job today stepping up in trip. She was able to switch off nicely in behind them and put them away well. She was still a bit green in front as she does get a bit lonely,” King reported upon dismounting.
“She saw out the 1200m very easily and would have come if something had come to her. She is very genuine and doesn’t know she is a little horse.”
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)
Tony Noonan Racing :: Back from injury, Mr Optimistic storms home from last for big win at Mornington
Having overcome two serious tendon injuries, it was a delightful sight at Mornington for owners of Mr Optimistic, who stormed his way back into the winners’ circle for local trainer Tony Noonan.
With Mr Optimistic resuming from a spell having endured two consecutive tendon injuries over the past 18 months, Noonan was understandably ecstatic with the result.
“It’s just such a relief to see this horse back in the winners’ circle because he showed us so much as a younger horse before he sustained two serious injuries,” Noonan said.
“Full credit has to go to the owners because they have been extremely patient and understood what we have been trying to do.
“He (Mr Optimistic) had only had two runs in 18 months so to have him finally sound, it was just good to see him hitting the line like we saw earlier in his career”
Slow out of the gates under rider Jake Noonan, Mr Optimistic settled at the tail of the field behind a strong tempo with the younger Noonan remaining ever patient as the race unfolded ahead of him.
Stuck behind a wall of horses down the side of the track, Noonan started looking for runs prior to straightening but with the field fanning wide, he elected to go back towards the inside, spotting the leader six lengths upon straightening.
When the gap finally opened by the 125m mark, the Mr Optimistic ($4.80) surged through under patient hands-and-heels riding to hit the front and ultimately score by half-a-length from Bisseu ($8) and Bicondova ($15).
“This horse has 62 kilos here today so just riding him that way and riding him for a bit of luck was always going to suit him if the luck played its way,” Jake said after the win.
“He just came onto the bridle right when I needed him to from the 500 and things just opened up on the inside.
“He’s a classy horse on his day. He’s stakes-placed and was just too good. He’s a classic Tony Noonan horse – ridden cold to finish off.
“A big thank you goes to the owners because it can be quite frustrating when you’ve got a horse of his ability and you don’t get to quite reach the standard you know he can make.
“The fact that he’s got that potential has kept us in the game and it’s good that they’ve stuck by us and stuck solid.”
The win was the second of Mr Optimistic’s career having shown promise as a 2-year-old when placed in the Group 3 Hampden before succumbing to consecutive tendon injuries.
The 4-year-old Domesday gelding was the first foal of Group 3 winner Be Positive, also trained by Noonan for Laurel Oak Bloodstock, and is the older half-brother of She’s Positive (Sepoy) who Noonan trained to win the Adelaide Magic Millions Classic.
News from Tony Noonan Racing
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.
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.
“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’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.
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.”
The equal highest earning BOBS winner for the past season, consistent Sebring four year-old Sir Bacchus scored an eye catching last to first win at Moonee Valley on Friday night bringing up a memorable double for Laurel Oak Bloodstock, who also won the Group I MVRC Manikato Stakes with Rebel Dane
Given a patient ride by Kerrin McEvoy, the Chris Waller trained grey was able to overhaul the leaders and win the 1200 metre open event by a long neck as favourite.
He was bred by David O’Keefe’s Lockyer Thoroughbreds and is the first foal of his stakes-winning Encosta de Lago mare Bacchanal Woman.
Bacchanal Woman was on-sold last year at the Inglis Broodmare Sale where she was snapped up by Goldin Farms for $340,000.
Laurel Oak purchased a Sepoy filly from Bacchanal Woman for $230,000 from the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale this year.
News from Breednet
Rebel Dane shocked punters winning Friday night’s $1 million Group I Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in his fourth attempt.
The seven-year-old entire finished fifth in the Manikato Stakes in 2013, fourth in 2014 and third in 2015 before winning and despite having not won in 12 starts since winning The Shorts last September. Trainer Gary Portelli said the easing track gave him confidence.
Settled in sixth place along the inside by Ben Melham, Rebel Dane ($61) was able to come through unimpeded along the inside into the home straight and powered home to defeat Fell Swoop ($7.50) by a head with Japonisme ($16) one length away third.
“The cut in the ground certainly helped him and he’s always run well in this race,” Portelli said.
“What a ride – I saw him (Melham) have a look behind him when he tried to push Holler out the way then he cut back to the inside – that’s what won the race.
“I knew he (Rebel Dane) still had it in him, the sectionals he ran last start were the best outside of Astern so I said we’ve got to have a go at this race.
“Sometimes you can be right and he’s won at a massive price.”
Portelli said he had been mixing up Rebel Dane’s routine to keep the seven-year-old stallion interested in his work.
“We’ve been taking him down the beach, putting him over some jumps, just trying to break things up,” Portelli said.
“I’ve got to thank the syndicate for letting me have another crack at this race – we could have pulled up stumps earlier in the campaign but we’ve been confident the horse is right and it was just a matter of him getting some luck.”
Ben Melham said Rebel Dane enjoyed a trouble-free run.
“There was that much room there I was a bit worried the grey (Chautauqua) might have come through there so I had a good look,” Melham said.
“When he wasn’t there, I was happy to have a crack and my horse gave me a good kick. I gave him a click before the corner and he picked up underneath me.”
Maygrove made light work of his topweight of 60kgs to record a strong win in the $50,000 Listed Jakkalberry Classic at Rotorua.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained gelding got his New Zealand Cup campaign back on track after the grey had missed two races due to rain-affected tracks recently.
Ridden for the first time by Michael Coleman, Maygrove settled midfield, as Admiral and I’llav Bubbles set the pace. Maygrove moved forward to the leaders close the turn then strode clear of the opposition to win by a length and a quarter. Gentil Tonton (S.Spratt) finished strongly for second, with six lengths to Flyinby (A.Schwerin) in third.
Maygrove’s winning time was 2:10.35 for the 1950 metres on a Heavy10 track.
“He’s a very good horse. He’s been consistent all the way through, especially on left-handed tracks. I wasn’t too worried about the conditions. I looked back at his win in the Awapuni Gold Cup on a heavy track and he won well that day, so I was quite confident today – even with the 60 kilos,” winning rider Michael Coleman said.
“He travelled really nicely, and got through the ground well. He possibly got there a bit too soon, but you don’t want to lose any of your momentum in this sort of going,” Coleman added.
Maygrove now shares $8 favouritism with the in-form Chris Wood trained galloper Pacorus for the next month’s Group 3 New Zealand Cup. Gentil Tonton is at $14.
“He won well today, it was pretty easy in the end with his big weight. We’ll probably only get one more race into him before the Cup – it will probably be in the Metropolitan (2500m), then the New Zealand Cup (3200m) a week later,” co-trainer Murray Baker said.
The six-year-old has now had 36 starts for seven wins – including three stakes races. Along with Saturday’s win, was last year’s Wellington Cup (Group 2) the Awapuni Gold Cup (Group 2), and with 10 placings has earned over $340,000 in prize-money for owners Lib Petagna and P W O’Rourke.
Bruce Perry purchased Maygrove for $110,000 from Haunui Farm’s draft at the 2012 Karaka Select Yearling Sale where the son of Authorized was offered on behalf of the Laurel Oak Lady Zhivago Syndicate.
Sir Bacchus captured his fifth career win when resuming in a 1200-metre benchmark 85 handicap last month at Rosehill.
The flashy grey will start in an identical race this Saturday, only this time he will be asked to shoulder 61.5kg as opposed to 59.5kg.
A 2kg rise at the top end of the weights is of some concern to rider Hugh Bowman but Sydney’s leading jockey has no doubt in the horse’s ability.
“He has got a bit of weight,” Bowman said.
“But I think he’s a horse that can carry a weight against this sort of grade. He’s obviously a horse that needs things to go his way but he’s pretty handy.”
Having carried a minimum of 57kg at eight of his nine career starts (56kg on debut), Sir Bacchus could be entitled to some weight relief in the coming weeks.
“I’m sure he’ll make it to stakes company but I just don’t know where he’ll fit in,” Bowman said.
“He might be a horse that could be better in a really good race with no weight than sort of going through that Listed/Group III stage.
“I just think he might be a horse that could pop up in an Epsom or possibly one of those Group I handicaps in Melbourne and he’d get in really low.
“I think he would be more suited by that than carrying bigger weights in Listed/Group III company.”
Early punters baulked at Sir Bacchus’ opening quote of $2.20 which has since eased to a top price of $2.50 with Sportsbet. The undefeated Bullrush, trained by Hawkes Racing, is shaping as Sir Bacchus’ biggest danger, quoted a $3.60 second favourite.
Tom Walter, Racenet
Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club today announced that as of 1 October 2016 the minimum prizemoney for Saturday metropolitan races will increase to $100,000 per race.
“This increase headlines several prizemoney initiatives totaling almost $53 million annually which has been announced this year, capping off a surge in NSW prizemoney over four years,” said Racing NSW Chairman, Mr John Messara AM.
“Today’s announcement is a further step towards achieving a vital component of Racing NSW’s Strategic Plan, intended to financially stimulate the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry.
“In 2012, total NSW prizemoney was $118.9 million. Following today’s announcement, I’m delighted to advise that annual prizemoney in NSW will be more than $204 million, an increase of $85 million over that time.
“These increases are entirely sustainable and are fully-funded from the proceeds of the sale of digital media rights, Race Fields legislation fees and parity,” Mr Messara added.
Increases to prizemoney are highlighted as follows:
* Metropolitan Saturday minimum prizemoney increasing to $100,000 per race or almost 18% on 1 October 2016 from $85,000 per race.
* Provincial minimum prizemoney increasing to $30,000 per race or 36% on 1 October 2016 from $22,000 per race in June 2016.
* Country TAB minimum prizemoney increased to $20,000 per race or 33% on 1 July 2016 from $15,000 per race in June 2016.
* Country Sky 2 minimum prizemoney increasing to $10,000 per race or 25% on 1 October 2016 from $8,000 per race.
* Addition of an eighth race to 20 selected midweek and night ATC race meetings from 1 October 2016, injecting a further $800,000 in prizemoney.
* Inclusion of an $80,000 feature race on ATC night meetings from 1 October 2016, injecting a further additional $320,000 in prizemoney.
* Group 2 race prizemoney increasing to a minimum of $200,000 per race or 14% on 1 October 2016 from $175,000.
* Group 3 race prizemoney increasing to a minimum of $150,000 per race or 20% on 1 October 2016 from $125,000.
* Listed Race prizemoney increasing to a minimum of $125,000 per race or 25% on 1 October 2016 from $100,000.
* Inclusion of a $150,000 feature race on selected metropolitan meetings.
* BOBS bonuses of $20,000 to be added to two and three year old Listed races from 1 October 2016.
* Country and Provincial Championships qualifying heats to be run for $150,000.
* A fortnightly $40,000 provincial maiden race on selected meetings from 1 October 2016.
* Thirty $40,000 country restricted maiden races on selected Showcase meetings from 1 October 2016.
Australian Turf Club Chief Executive Officer, Darren Pearce said the depth and breadth of today’s announcements for Sydney racing were among the most significant in the Club’s history.
“The ATC is fully funding more than $4 million to increase all metropolitan Saturday races to $100,000, setting the new benchmark in Australian Racing,” Mr Pearce said.
“All Stakes races will benefit from newly increased minimum prizemoney levels, and new feature races will be added to Night Racing fixtures and the Melbourne Cup Race Day at Royal Randwick.
“These prizemoney increases are just one part of the ATC’s focus and long-term strategy to grow a stronger and sustainable future for Sydney racing for decades to come.
“The ATC will continue to help fund investment into racetracks, training infrastructure and our spectator facilities, for the benefit of everyone in racing. It’s time to make Sydney racing the strongest and most competitive racing in the world.”
News from Racing NSW & ATC Joint Media Release
The equal highest earning BOBS winner for the past season, consistent Sebring four year-old Sir Bacchus returned from his winter spell with a late surging victory at Rosehill on Saturday.
Given a beautiful ride by Hugh Bowman, the Chris Waller trained grey was able to overhaul the leaders and win the 1200 meter Benchmark 85 event by half a length under 59.5 kg.
“It was a well-timed ride by Hugh Bowman to say the least and the horse looks like he’s come back stronger,” Waller said.
“We’ll take him through the grades now – probably another Saturday race next start and then we might look for something better.”
A $130,000 Magic Millions National Yearling Sale purchase for Laurel Oak Bloodstock from the draft of Widden Stud, Sir Bacchus (pictured Steve Hart) has won five of nine starts earning over $300,000 in prizemoney.
He was bred by David O’Keefe’s Lockyer Thoroughbreds and is the first foal of his stakes-winning Encosta de Lago mare Bacchanal Woman.
Bacchanal Woman was on-sold last year at the Inglis Broodmare Sale where she was snapped up by Goldin Farms for $340,000 and has since produced a Sepoy filly for her new owners.
News from Breednet
Gary Portelli knows he is saddling up the best horse in the Missile Stakes but admits he is clueless about tactics.
The field for Saturday’s Group Two 1200m-sprint has been reduced to five with the scratchings of Golden Slipper winner Capitalist and Group One-placed Generalife because of the heavy track.
The Portelli-trained Rebel Dane is the new favourite but like his four opponents, is a horse who usually gets back in his races.
“There might be five across the track all looking at each other,” Portelli said.
“I’ll leave it up to Tommy Berry to figure it out.
“He’s the maestro and he’ll know what to do.
“It will be a battle of tactics and the best horse doesn’t always win.
“Most days the horses he’s up against would finish behind him but I respect the others and it will all come down to the way the race is run.
“He may be able to take up a spot but there’s not much I can do. It’s up to Tommy.”
The winner of the 2013 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, Rebel Dane has not won another Group One race since then but has racked up several placings including a second on a heavy track to Lankan Rupee in the 2014 TJ Smith Stakes.
Rebel Dane firmed to $1.75 with the TAB on Friday with Big Money second choice at $2.90.
Godolphin trainer John O’Shea has scratched all four stable runners from the Randwick meeting with the track a heavy 10 on Friday afternoon.
But track manager Nevesh Ramdhani has no concerns about the meeting going ahead with the weather clearing and a fine day forecast for the first Saturday metropolitan program of the new season.
“The track is obviously very heavy but is not at all bottomless, so given the amount of rain at this time of year it is coping as well as can be expected,” Ramdhani said
News: Caryl Williamson
Rival trainer Gary Portelli concedes only the “Golden Slipper curse” can beat Capitalist in Saturday’s Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick.
Portelli, who saddles up Group 1 winner Rebel Dane in the $175,000 feature, made the big admission on Thursday despite 24 hours of torrential rain in Sydney, which surely favours his charge.
Rebel Dane is an old fashioned mudder, with three wins and two seconds in 10 tries on wet ground.
Added to that is the fact the sprinter goes like a rocket when resuming, with four wins and three placings from eight first-up appearances.
“At the weights, I just don’t think we can beat Capitalist,” Portelli said.
“We have to hope the Golden Slipper curse works on him.”
The so called “curse” has many derivatives.
If Capitalist salutes on Saturday then he’ll be just the third Golden Slipper winner over the past decade to have won first-up in the spring.
And unless you count Dance Hero, who was three days away from turning four when he won the Missile Stakes in 2005, no three-year-old has won the race in recent history — even champion galloper Lonhro had to settle for third in 2001.
Despite speculation that Capitalist might not run on Saturday, co-trainer Paul Snowden is suggesting the colt is ideally suited at his first crack in slogging conditions.
“He gets 7kg off every horse in the race bar one,” Snowden said.
If you’re going to test a horse out in unknown conditions like these then having that kind of weight pull is surely the most ideal time.
“Yes, we’re unsure if he will cope but what options do you have — wait until next week for the San Domenico Stakes?”
Therein lies a problem as well — both historically speaking and in terms of avoiding a gut buster first-up.
Only two Slipper winners have won the San Domenico — Sir Dapper (1983) and Tierce (1991).
“Plus he’d get 60kg and what happens if the track is heavy again? Then you’re running first-up on a bog with 60kg on your back,” he said.
“If he can handle the heavy then this week’s race is definitely the better option but even if he doesn’t handle it, you could argue he’s better running this week than next with the big weight and less time to recover.”
Rebel Dane resumed on a heavy track at The Championships two years ago and finished second to Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
“Same track and distance as this but two years ago he had a bit more acceleration,” Portelli said.
“But at least we’ve worked that out — if you watch his recent trial, he was niggled along a bit but Tommy Berry jumped off saying he kept picking up through the line.
“When he won first-up last spring, I told Brenton (jockey Brenton Avdulla) that he had to get rolling coming into the corner.
“Then first-up last time in when third in the Australia Stakes we got the tactics wrong. We tried to ride him closer to the speed and it’s just not his go.
“Basically, nowadays he takes a furlong to wind up. I’d say on Saturday we’ll be behind Capitalist in the run but we’ll be getting going around the corner.
“He’s nice and fit and ready to rumble. Win, lose or draw, Capitalist will know he’s had a run. He’s only ever raced two-year-olds, never a battle-hardened, tough, genuine weight-for-age galloper like Rebel Dane.”
Portelli has noticed a change in the son of California Dane, who turned seven on Monday.
“His times at trackwork and everything are the same but he’s 20kg heavier than he’s ever been at the same stage of his preparation,” he said.
“It’s a good thing because he’s always been a bit light and it’s been a struggle to go deep into a prep — I don’t think we will have that problem this time in.
“Hopefully being a bit fatter doesn’t compromise his first-up record.”
Image: Simon Bullard
Rebel Dane is fighting fit ahead of his early season campaign with trainer Gary Portelli’s main worry the presence of Capitalist in the Missile Stakes.
Trainer Gary Portelli has Rebel Dane ready to go to the races but admits his early season targets will not be easy.
New jockey Tommy Berry gave Rebel Dane a work-out between races at Rosehill on Saturday to get him ready for his first-up assignment in the Missile Stakes. Saturday’s group 2 sprint will also feature the return of Golden Slipper winner Capitalist and it doesn’t get any easier after that.
“He takes on Capitalist in his first start and then gets to take on Winx in the Warwick Stakes,” Portelli said. “There really aren’t any other races for him early in the season, so that’s the way it is.
“He takes on Capitalist in his first start and then gets to take on Winx in the Warwick Stakes,” Portelli said. “There really aren’t any other races for him early in the season, so that’s the way it is.
“He’s at 505 kilos which is the heaviest I’ve ever had him at the start of a preparation and is in great physical condition. I don’t think he could be any better.”
Rebel Dane covered the last 600m of Saturday’s 1000m gallop in a slick 33.07 seconds.
The winner of the 2013 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, Rebel Dane is likely to go to Melbourne again this spring, with the Winterbottom Stakes in Perth also an option.
The entire has won almost $1.7 million highlighted by the Group 1 race since the Rupert Clarke.
News from Portelli Racing website
Racing NSW has today announced that prizemoney for the highly successful Highway races will be increased by 50% to $60,000 per race from $40,000.
The increased prizemoney for Highway races will commence on Saturday, 6 August 2016. The prizemoney increase maintains the position of Highway races for country participants in line with recently commenced increases in prizemoney for Country TAB racing.
“The Highway races have performed strongly since they commenced in October last year and warrant this further investment. The Highway races will now deliver $2.5 million in prizemoney annually,” said Racing NSW Chief Executive, Mr Peter V’landys AM.
The Highway races have gathered strong support over a short period drawing together progressive country gallopers on a weekly basis.
Delivering tremendously interesting and competitive racing, the Highway races provide a much-deserved opportunity for country trainers to showcase their skills and develop their profile at the key race meeting of the week in NSW.
“The most satisfying element of the Highway races to me is seeing the thrill and excitement among owners that have runners in these races,” Mr V’landys added.
“The frequency and positioning of Highway races gives punters a feel for these horses and their form.
“I’m also delighted that in the past month, three Highway race winners have progressed to win Saturday benchmark races. This must give country trainers a shot of confidence that they can be competitive in races when they come to Sydney,” Mr V’landys concluded.
News from Racing NSW
Tommy Berry will ride Rebel Dane when he resumes in the Missile Stakes on Saturday week and trainer Gary Portelli is pleased the leading jockey was aboard in a barrier trial on Monday.
Rebel Dane finished third in the trial behind Vashka and Majaska at Warwick Farm, settling off the pace and seeming to take a while to hit full speed in the concluding stages.
“It was good that Tommy has had the experience on the horse because he has lost a bit of that zip and acceleration he had when he was younger,” Portelli said.
“He is taking longer to unwind, taking a bit more riding to get to his top so I think it will be beneficial that Tommy rode him in the trial so he knows what he is dealing with on race day.”
Rebel Dane finished fourth last start in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes behind English, Black Heart Bart and Kermadec.
Portelli is keen to give Rebel Dane a gallop between races at Rosehill on Saturday, a formula he used before winning The Shorts first-up at last spring.
“Physically he is looking stronger than ever, I’ve never been happier with him,” Portelli said.
“We gave him a longer break out of the autumn last year and didn’t resume until the middle of September.
“This time around I wanted to get him in early and have him up firing before some of the big guns get back.
“After the Missile Stakes he will go to the Warwick Stakes and then we will assess the situation and look at our options from there.
“The Manikato is a race that he has performed well at in the past and it is something I’d like to take on again if we get to Melbourne.”
Not having had a run for five weeks, gallant five-year-old mare All My Loving produced another very good effort to finish third on Tuesday at Gosford, further contributing further funds to the Breast Cancer Foundation.
With 10 per cent of her earnings going to the Breast Cancer Foundation, the Gary Portelli-trained All My Loving (Not A Single Doubt) jumped from the outside barrier in the Spar Express Benchmark 63 Handicap over 2100m at Gosford.
A mid-race move saw Wedding Kiss to come from third last to race around the field to sit outside the leader, the pace appeared to quicken as All My Loving found herself in second last position, many lengths from the leader.
At the 800m mark, the runs started to come and Maven Wiz came off the back of Wedding Kiss to commence his run, as did Rightoncue and Baroque Girl, while Buckley and All My Loving didn’t have a lot of options just yet but to follows these runners forward.
Tye Angland urged Maven Wiz to the lead just before the turn after fighting off Slade Amigos to his inside, while Baroque Girl and All My Loving were starting to make ground.
The widest into the final turn, All My Loving looked to slightly struggle but just needed time to balance up once into the straight and once she did, worked home very well to finish in third, just under three lengths from the winner.
With 27 top five placed performances from her 35 starts, the Laurel Oak Rose (Mgr: L J Mihalyka), Jalana (Mgr: D Gremmo), A N Fitzgerald, L J Carpenter, Mrs K A Carpenter, Ms K L Benson, Mrs S L Grant, S James, S E Johnston, Mrs P Hunter-Knight, Mrs J C McAuliffe, Mrs V Racovalis, Ms A Kung, Mrs C A Mathieson, Mrs R C Fitzgerald, G M Fitzgerald and L A Brennan-owned mare has been a favourite of the team, not only for her honesty and consistency, but for the funds she has been able to contribute to such a worthy cause.
Ending his previous campaign with a third behind Southern Legend at Rosehill, with that winner going on to claim a stakes race during The Championships, the Gary Portelli-trained Wide Acclaim resumed on Saturday at Rosehill.
Settling last after being slightly slowly away from the outside barrier, For Me Dad went to the early lead and ensured some good speed upfront, with the leading filly chasing four consecutive wins.
Running in second was the talented Matt Dale-trained Bitburg, while race favourite Speith was traveling in third last position on the rail.
Charging into the final bend, Wide Acclaim was still towards the tail of the field but jockey Samantha Clenton was urging the son of Congrats to the outside to make up some ground.
With the Arrowfield silks aboard King’s Troop getting up along the rail, favourite Spieth was still searching for some room, but when it presented itself, the talented son of Thorn Park charged to the line to record a very nice win.
While yet to record black type, the connections of Spieth obviously feel the colt has plenty of potential as evident by his start in the Group 2 Arrowfield 3yo Sprint during The Championships, where he finished down the track behind Group 1 performers Japonisme and Counterattack.
Although beaten into fourth position, the run of “Harry” was very good and what further highlights this is that only two horses on the day where able to break 36 secs for their final 400m sectional – those two being the winner Spieth and Wide Acclaim, with our boy recording 32.9. – click here to veie race.
We are really looking forward to Wide Acclaim stepping out next start and with plenty of BOBS prizemoney opportunities over the coming months, fingers crossed we can play a part in that also!
Having his third start for new trainer Darren Weir, four-year-old Shamardal entire Better Land produced the goods in the final race of the day at Sportsbet Ballarat on Wednesday, taking the prize in the Hygain Benchmark 70 Handicap (1400m).
A length and a half third at his most recent run behind Edgewood and Decoupez on a Heavy 10 surface over the 1400m at Warrnambool, jockey Brad Rawiller eased Better Land from an outside gate, settling with only one behind him.
Racing slightly ungenerously in parts, Rawiller let Better Land slide forward a while before home turn, but still had many lengths to make up.
As Elite Tiger and Corporate Takeover cornered into the home straight in front, Better Land was the widest runner of the field, but was starting to make up ground.
Starting the short-priced favourite in the 10 horse field, Better Land knuckled down to chase Elite Tiger who had now skipped a few lengths clear.
Charging really strongly to the leader, Better Land took the win by a nose, and although narrowly, it was great to see another win on the board for fellow owners; R A Pegum, Laurel Oak Shamrock (Mgr: L J Mihalyka), Ramsey Pastoral Company Pty Ltd (Mgr: S B Ramsey), D J Tamblyn, R S Willis, Mrs J M Tamblyn, D J Tamblyn, R V 8 (Mgr: R V Dulhunty), M R Tudehope, B N E Hastie, M J Forsdick, A N Fitzgerald, Rdfit Pty Ltd (Mgr: S C Cook) and A W Reichard.
Having showed immense talent early on as evident by his three length debut win and his stakes performance behind Scissor Kick in the Listed The Rosebud and the Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes, Better Land has been somewhat of an enigma, but now that he has broken through for another win, fingers crossed that he continues on with it.