The purchase of a treadmill and enquiries on how best to use it eventually led to Canberra trainer Matthew Dale setting up a satellite base on the NSW south-coast.
It’s from that base Dale’s stable star Fell Swoop has been prepared for his racing return in the Listed Bob Hoysted Handicap (1000m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Dale wanted see how champion Victorian trainer Darren Weir incorporated the use of a treadmill into his regime at Ballarat.
With Weir taking a well-earned break it was suggested Dale visit his Warrnambool base where Jarrod McLean works the team on the beach.
“That fuelled the fire I suppose,” Dale said.
“It’s such a unique, different way of training and the horses really respond to it.
“It’s great for them physically and mentally.”
After an unsuccessful spring campaign that included a last placing in The Everest at Randwick in October, Fell Swoop has been trained exclusively from the Moruya base this campaign.
Dale said Fell Swoop had been unlucky in his two previous runs after racing wide but pulled up with the thumps following The Everest.
“It knocked him around for a couple of weeks afterwards but then he picked up and spelled well,” Dale said.
“This campaign he’s been trained off the beach and all the indicators are positive.
“He trialled well at Goulburn and I rode him myself on Tuesday in a gallop on the course proper at Moruya.”
Fell Swoop is the first profile horse that Dale will race from the beach set-up.
He said the rest have been running around Canberra and the south-coast, producing good performances.
Joining Fell Swoop on the trip to Flemington is City Of Kirkwall who runs in the JDRF Australia Handicap (2000m).
A former Singapore galloper, City Of Kirkwall has won his past three starts, most recently at the Sapphire Coast.
“He’s a horse that I quite simply wouldn’t have got back to the races without the Moruya base,” Dale said.
“There’s no doubt in mind that he’s been a real success story from out of there.
“Every start we’ve seen an improvement in him mentally and he’s now enjoying himself at the races.”