Rebel Dane has caused a major upset in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley which has signalled the end of the spring for Chautauqua and the end of the road for Buffering.
Trained by Gary Portelli at Warwick Farm, Rebel Dane won the 2013 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and had competed well at the top level since without winning.
Running in his fourth Groip One Manikato Stakes, Rebel Dane, a $61 chance, travelled well for Ben Melham and held off Canberra sprinter Fell Swoop by a short neck.
As usual, Buffering went to the front, but couldn’t get a breather with Fell Swoop sticking with him.
It told on the veteran Queenslander who weakened to sixth with his trainer and part-owner Robert Heathcote saying it was time to retire the multiple Group One winner whose first win at the highest level was the 2013 Manikato,
“He was brave. That’s curtains,” Heathcote said.
“All the owners have got to decide it officially and make a formal announcement but we couldn’t do it to him again. Damian Browne said he tried his heart out but his old legs just won’t carry him.
“In times gone by he tows Damian into the race and today he didn’t. So that’s enough for me.
“It’s been a super ride. It’s sad but what a ride.”
Chautauqua’s co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said the world’s highest rated sprinter would now head to the spelling paddock instead of the Darley Classic after his eighth.
While there was disappointment for Heathcote and the Hawes team, for Portelli there was only jubilation.
He’s been unlucky a couple of times. We always thought this wasn’t his track, but it was tonight,” Portelli said.
“What a ride.”
Portelli said it had been a great team effort to get Rebel Dane back to winning at the elite level.
“We’ve been taking him to the beach and putting him over some hurdles just to break everything up,” Portelli said.
“He’s a seven-year-old stallion and I knew he had it in him.
“His last start at Randwick he ran 32.8 seconds his last 600 metres and I said we have to have a go at this race. And here we are in the winner’s circle.”
It will be the last Manikato for Rebel Dane and Louis Mihalyka, manager of Laurel Oak syndicate with connctions hoping to find him a home at stud.