Rebel back on Cup trail

Almost a year after his Melbourne Cup bid was thwarted by injury, dual Derby winner Rebel Raider is back on the journey towards the great race.

His fitness levels are so high, trainer Leon Macdonald has brought forward his return to Saturday’s Spring Stakes at Morphettville.

Rebel Raider was among the leading contenders for the 2009 Cup but suffered a leg injury at trackwork a day after weights were released in September.

He underwent successful surgery and had a short autumn campaign to keep him ticking over.

“He’s jumping out of his skin so I decided to start him this week instead of waiting for the Penny Edition in two weeks,” Macdonald said.

“Obviously over 1200 metres they will probably be too quick for him but the way he is going I expect him to run well.

“We will then step him up to 1400 metres in the Penny Edition two weeks later before taking him to Melbourne for the weight-for-age races.”

Rebel Raider won the 2008 Victoria Derby but failed the right-handed way of going the following autumn in Sydney.

He returned home to Adelaide to cap his season with victory in the South Australian Derby after a daring ride by Clare Lindop who went against his normal pattern and took him to the front when the pace was too slow.

In last year’s Penny Edition, Rebel Raider ran a solid first-up third.

The Spring Stakes was also supposed to be the season opener for Alcopop but last year’s Melbourne Cup favourite was ruled out on Wednesday after a scope revealed mucous in his trachea.

He has been placed on a course of antibiotics and a decision on his resumption has yet to be made.

Alcopop is currently rated a $21 chance with TAB Sportsbet for this year’s Melbourne Cup with Rebel Raider at $31.

The Bart Cummings-trained dual Group One winner Faint Perfume heads betting at $12 with her Queensland Derby-winning stablemate Dariana and 2009 Cup winner Shocking at $14.

Shocking will resume in Saturday’s Liston Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.