Fireburn wins Golden Slipper – Studs set to tussle for the right to stand the filly’s homeless and underrated stallion Rebel Dane
The question as to where Rebel Dane (California Dane) will cover his next book of mares undoubtedly intensified yesterday as the sire’s career in the breeding barn reached fever pitch when his talented daughter Fireburn produced a mind-blowing performance to win the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at Rosehill, handing the often-overlooked stallion his first Group 1 winner.
Like her dual Group 1-winning sire Rebel Dane, Fireburn carries the silks of Louis Mihalyka’s Laurel Oak Bloodstock and is also, like her father, trained by Gary Portelli. The Warwick Farm handler was understandably ecstatic to add a second win in the showpiece Group 1 to his CV, having saddled She Will Reign (Manhattan Rain) to victory in similar conditions in 2017.
“Rebel Dane, who’d have thought he would throw a Golden Slipper winner?” Portelli said. “She is the best two-year-old in Australia right now and I’ve got no doubt she will be the best three year-old next year.”
The chance of victory in the $5 million juvenile feature looked slim in the early stages when Fireburn was dramatically bumped at the halfway stage, nearly dislodging jockey Brenton Avdulla and causing her to be shuffled to the back of the pack.
Portelli, who also had ninth-placed Sejardan (Sebring) in the race, admitted he had prematurely conceded defeat, until he noticed her steaming home in between runners. “I thought, ‘we are out of play, this is not our year’,” Portelli said. “Then I saw her colours starting to sneak through and when she decides she is going to get you, she gets you.
She has such a big motor.” The filly, unlike many of her rivals, relished the Heavy 9 conditions and was able to weave through rivals in the final 300 metres, eventually bursting from the pack to claim victory by a comfortable two and a half lengths, handing recent Silver Slipper Stakes (Gr 2, 1100m) winner Best Of Bordeaux (Snitzel) his first defeat as the Kacy Fogden-trained finished second. Coolangatta (Written Tycoon), who was sent off the $3.70 favourite, also surrendered her unbeaten record, finishing another neck away in third and she was a length ahead of last month’s Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Daumier (Epaulette), who finished fourth.
“Congratulations to (managing owner) Louis Mihalyka and the team, I am forever thankful to them for giving me Rebel Dane to start with and then a daughter of his and it just continued the great story,” said the trainer. “She has been the biggest improver in the stable that I’ve ever seen. I said this week she has peaked so well.
“This morning, I had to go and work with her. I was going to give her an easy day, but she was too fresh, so I had to go and give her some work and she turned up here and smashed them.” As with Portelli, Fireburn also gave jockey Brenton Avdulla his second Golden Slipper after his success on Estijaab (Snitzel) four years ago and capped a remarkable rise back to the top.