A switch of venue likely means a change of fortune for Hermosa Beach and Canberra trainer Matt Dale.
Widespread criticism of Eagle Farm the lead-up to, and during, last weekend’s meeting forced Racing Queensland to relocate its winter carnival headquarters to Doomben, a decision Dale is ruing.
He couldn’t have been happier to run the six-year-old mare at Eagle Farm, the original location of Saturday’s Listed Helen Coughlan Stakes (1200m).
“We were really keen to run her on the chopped out track. That’s a surface she really enjoys so we’re disappointed,” Dale said.
“She’s gone from being a really good chance on a searching 1200 metres at Eagle Farm to a hard and fast 1200 metres at Doomben.”
Drawing a wide gate hasn’t helped either, but Dale said there was no thought of scratching her because the race is an important build-up to the Listed Gai Waterhouse Classic (1350m) at Ipswich on June 17.
Hermosa Beach made her Queensland debut when fourth in the Listed Bright Shadow Stakes a fortnight ago at Doomben on heavy ground.
“She raced really well and she was a little bit unlucky and got beaten by under a length,” he said.
Hermosa Beach is a $26 chance in the Luxbet’s market with the Bjorn Baker-trained Bonny O’Reilly the $2.90 favourite.
Closer to home at Rosehill, Dale is chasing his ninth Highway Handicap and third in successive weekends when Autumn attempts to emulate the success of Hay Now and Clipper.
The five-year-old is also seeking a third straight win after triumphs on her home track were separated by an injury-related 33-week spell.
She resumed on May 10 and claimed a Class One Handicap (1200m) despite being hampered at the start and over-racing.
Dale said it was unlikely Autumn could get the cover she usually prefers from barrier 13 unless late scratchings are beneficial.
“She’s drawn awkwardly but it looks the right race for her,” he said.