When Rebel Dane walks out of Gary Portelli’s driveway for the final time, he knows he could be waving goodbye to a once-in-a-lifetime ride.
While that moment is not expected to come until next year, the trainer and his Group One journeyman will bid a sad farewell to the Moonee Valley 1200m-course on Friday night.
Rebel Dane is set to run in his fourth and final Manikato and after the race reality will kick in for Portelli.
“As a small-time trainer we don’t get these sorts of horses very often,” Portelli said.
“Some trainers go the rest of their life not getting a good enough horse to run in the Manikato Stakes, so it’ll be a bit sad on Friday night particularly if he doesn’t run well.”
Now a seven-year-old, Rebel Dane was four when he ran fifth in his first Manikato in 2013, one length behind winner Buffering.
In the classic 2014 edition, Rebel Dane was fourth in a blanket finish behind Lankan Rupee and it took another superstar in Chautauqua to hold him off last year when he ran third.
“I’m not an emotional sort of guy,” Portelli said.
“(But) I’ll probably get emotional the day he walks down the driveway for the last time.”
Punters may be more at ease with waving goodbye to Rebel Dane who has started favourite in 10 of his 35 starts for three wins including the 2014 Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
“He’s been a bad horse for the punters and we understand that, but as an owners’ horse he’s a bit of an underdog,” Portelli said.
“You take it for granted, then you look back on it and you think ‘what a ride we had’.”
Last year’s winner Chautauqua is the clear Manikato Stakes 2016 favourite at $2.20 while only Japonisme ($41) is longer odds than Rebel Dane who is at $35.
Portelli is just hoping the horse can put in a proud effort from barrier four.
“He maps well. I think he’s going to be three sets back on the fence probably following Fell Swoop,” Portelli said.
“If he gets any luck he’ll be in the top five and he’ll pay for his trip.”
After he completes the Moonee Valley leg of his farewell tour, Portelli plans three more starts for Rebel Dane culminating in a final goodbye in his hometown for next year’s TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick.
THE MANIKATO REBEL SWANSONG
2013 – Finished fifth within a length of winner Buffering.
2014 – In a classic Manikato, Rebel Dane finished fourth as eight horses crossed the line within three-quarters of a length of winner Lankan Rupee.
2015 – Ran third behind superstar Chautauqua and Stradbroke-winning mare Srikandi.
2016 – Rated a $35 chance in his final Manikato.