Rebel Dane had to settle for second best in the TJ Smith Stakes but for trainer Gary Portelli that was good enough – for now.
When Portelli planned Rebel Dane’s first-up assault on the $2.5 million race, Lankan Rupee was a Group Three winner.
Since then he has established himself as the country’s sprint champion with wins in the Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket Handicap.
Rebel Dane’s performance to run second to him pleased Portelli who is now planning future Group One targets in his absence including the All Aged Stakes on Saturday week.
“He showed he’s the second best sprinter with his TJ performance,” Portelli said.
“He didn’t handle the wet track and he’s run into a superstar.
“(Jockey) Glen Boss was rapt and I’m very proud of him.
“We’ll look at maybe stepping up to the 1400 metres of the All Aged now before he goes to Brisbane for the BTC Cup and the Doomben 10,000.”
A Group One 1400m winner of the Rupert Clarke Stakes in the spring, Rebel Dane ran past Queensland star Buffering in the final 50 metres of the TJ.
Trainer Robert Heathcote said Buffering would head home to Brisbane to target the BTC Cup and the Doomben 10,000.
“He never lets me down,” Heathcote said.
“I’ll take him home and get him ready for the weight-for-age sprints and we will nominate for the Stradbroke Handicap as well.”
Lightning Stakes winner Snitzerland weakened to finish 12th in the TJ Smith at her first start on a track worse than dead.
Trainer Gerald Ryan says no decision has been made on where the mare will go next with the BTC Cup in the mix.
“We’re not sure yet where she will go,” he said.
“She didn’t handle the going at all.”
Irish visitor Gordon Lord Byron also found the going tougher than when he won the George Ryder Stakes at his first Australian appearance.
He will now head to Hong Kong for next month’s Champions Mile.