By Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
The El Roca gelding has made marked improvement with every start since finishing at the tail of a five-horse field in his only appearance as a two-year-old last April.
He joined Cody Cole’s Matamata stable in the spring and resumed with a close second in a 1400m maiden race at Te Aroha on November 29, then stepped up to 1600m and cleared maiden ranks at Tauranga on December 15. He had to work hard in front that day and was challenged a long way from the finish, but he fought fiercely down the straight and won by a long neck.
The step up in class and distance for Sunday’s Salver brought another front-running victory for Renegade Rebel. This time rider Matt Cameron was able to dictate terms and set a slow speed out in front, conserving energy for the run home.
Cameron began to increase the tempo coming up to the turn, and then Renegade Rebel called on all his fighting qualities down the Ellerslie straight to repel the challenges of High Country, Rebecchi and Perfectmanz. He held them all at bay and crossed the finish line with a one-length margin up his sleeve.
Renegade Rebel became the second black-type winner for Cole, and both have been at Ellerslie. He saddled Astor to win the Listed Mufhasa Stakes (1300m) in 2018.
“This is just a great feeling,” Cole said. “The horse was able to have quite a soft time out in front today. Matt Cameron is really good at riding those sorts of races, and it’s great to have him back in the saddle and doing what he does best. He just let the horse do his own thing.
“This horse has just kept improving. He joined our stable after winning a trial in the early spring, and this was only his third race for us. We’re sort of trying to figure him out as we go. But he was really tough in his maiden win last start, and it was another good, tough win today.”
Renegade Rebel is hardly bred for stamina, being by El Roca out of a mare that won five races over 1000m and 1200m. But Sunday’s performance thrust him into contention for the Gr.1 Trackside New Zealand Derby (2400m) on March 2, for which the TAB now rates him a $12 chance in a market headed by Orchestral and Zabmanzor at $8.
“We’ll see how he comes through this run before working out what path we take from here,” Cole said. “He has given us the impression that he might perform better when he’s kept a little bit on the fresh side.”
Renegade Rebel was a $40,000 purchase from Westbury Stud’s draft in Book 2 of Karaka 2022. His four-start career has now produced two wins, a second and $77,250 in stakes.