Rebel Dane to Stand at Widden Stud

Widden Stud has won the bidding battle to secure the services of winning stallion Rebel Dane, who will stand at the historic farm’s New South Wales base for $27,500 (inc GST) in 2022.

Rebel Dane’s star filly Fireburn has claimed both the G1 Golden Slipper S. and G1 Inglis Sires’ in the past month, intensifying interest in her sire, who had been searching for a new home since managing owner Silverdale Farm opted to pursue options in the Hunter Valley after he had stood firstly for two years at Swettenham Stud then for three years at Glen Eden Stud in Victoria.

Respected bloodstock agent Mark Player had coordinated the bidding process and in the end it was Widden which won the day, with the final deal signed at the Riverside Stables on Sunday, ahead of this week’s Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.

Widden Stud principal Antony Thompson said Rebel Dane was a rare article as a stallion who had already proven the quality he could produce, through both Fireburn and Group 3 winner Subterranean, but who was also able to be relaunched into the market.

Mark Player, Louis Mihalyka, Steve Grant, Antony Thompson and Ken Lowe

“Obviously, he has great credentials in his own right as a terrific racehorse, but the real attention is now on him for what he is doing as a young stallion, with just a handful of runners to come out,” Thompson said.

“He has a couple of serious horses, including the Champion 2-Year-Old elect no doubt, this season. She’s a very good filly and any stallion that can throw progeny of that quality is a serious stallion and one worth proper consideration. We are thrilled to say his new home is Widden Stud.

“There is a definite demand for young, proven stallions. He is certainly an elite young stallion. He has proven he can get elite performers and he will be very, very popular.”

The Gary Portelli-trained Fireburn’s development from humble homebred to Golden Slipper winner and the first filly in 30 years to win the Inglis Sires’ as well, has been a fairy-tale for his breeders and owners Louis Mihalyka’s Laurel Oak Bloodstock as well as Silverdale Farm, where she was foaled and raised.

Rebel Dane and Rob Petith at Silverdale Farm

Rebel Dane raced in the same Laurel Oak colours and Mihalyka and Silverdale’s Steve Grant, as well as Kenny Lowe, had backed the stallion from the very start, working hard to find him a home.

“It’s been a wonderful renewal of the energy we have all had with this horse. If you go back to the early days, Kenny Lowe wore out two pairs of shoes walking around trying to get him a spot. Lou made phone calls until his ears bled,” Grant said.

“To be able to do a deal with an old friend in Antony, it’s a wonderful way it has all turned out.”

Grant said there was a sense of needing to seize the moment with Rebel Dane, with his second-crop daughter Fireburn doing such a remarkable job this campaign.

“We realised that from where we were, that now was our time. We had got great support early on, from the likes of Adam Sangster, but to get the horse set now for the rest of his life, it just needed to be the right sort of arrangement,” he said.

“Antony came up with a wonderful deal and we are looking forward to working with Widden over the coming years.”

Widden has a wonderful affiliation with Golden Slipper winners and producers. It has stood Slipper winners such as VainMarscay, Stratum and Sebring. The first three of those stallions all then sired Golden Slipper winners, themselves Vain, with Sir Dapper and Inspired, Marscay with Bint Marscay and Stratum with Crystal Lily.

In confirming the fee, which is $18,700 more than he stood for at Glen Eden last year, Thompson said he was confident that Rebel Dane would attract a very strong book of mares.

“He is still going to be great value at that. If you can breed to a sire of a Slipper winner, and a stallion like this at that fee, the breeders will really flock to him,” he said.

“I’m sure he will be very popular. I don’t think we will have any trouble marketing him at all. Every breeder you speak to, they are looking for a proven sire and it’s every breeder’s dream to breed a Slipper winner.

“He’s going to go on to be a great stallion and that will come with the quantity and quality of mares he will get at Widden.”

Small crops of seven foals each followed the crop of 26 from which Fireburn emerged. It means that there are very few yearlings or weanlings by the stallion. His mare numbers jumped to 49 last year but Thompson is well aware that while his racetrack success as a sire has been rapid, the commercial success may take some time to emerge.

Rebel Dane at Silverdale Farm

For Mihalyka, the inking of a deal completes a remarkable six weeks which has seen Fireburn emerge as one of the best 2-year-old fillies in a generation and Rebel Dane as a stallion of consequence.

“Winning the Slipper and winning the Sires’ would be good in its own right, but to have that positive impact on the stallion, it’s just an added bonus. We are just so rapt to be in that position,” he said.

“The irony is that when Subterranean had first won, we were up at Widden seeing our mares and foals. I joked that this horse is a good stallion, and he should be standing here at Widden. I was just disappointed it took Antony a few years to come to his senses and realise I was right.

“We are very, very pleased. We have been good clients of Widden for a long, long time.

“We have a great association, bought horses off them, have got mares there and shares in their stallions and it’s just brilliant to have another string to our bow.”

Grant, Lowe and Mihalyka all expect to be busy at the upcoming breedng stock sales looking for mares to send to Rebel Dane.

Story originally published by TDN AusNZ (Bren O’Brien)

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