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 Sir 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.