Matthew Dale has extended his winning record in Highway Handicaps to four with Hermosa Beach the latest for the Canberra trainer.
The $40,000 weekly races are restricted to country-trained horses and Dale believes they are a big help in a horse’s progression.
Starting favourite, Hermosa Beach ($3.40) gave her supporters a couple of anxious moments but Brenton Avdulla waited patiently for a clear run in the straight.
Once the mare was in clear running, she surged to the front and held off a late challenge from Red Hot Dane ($41) by a length.
“The races are a great progression for country horses,” Dale said.
“You can come off a nice win like Hermosa Beach did at Canberra and the right horse can capture a race like this.”
“It’s great for the owners and the country trainers as well.
“It’s not just a win for us. Statistically they are high turnover races so it creates a bit of a point of difference on a Saturday and I think it’s working.”
Dale said Avdulla was a key component in Hermosa Beach’s win and his previous experience with the mare he rode to win at Canberra on December 29 was invaluable.
“He came down and rode three winners for me that day so it was a great tactic,” Dale said.
“If you can come into these Highway races and get a good quality jockey as Brenton is to get a feel for these horses before they come here on the big stage, it is an asset and that showed today.”
Dale said Hermosa Beach return to town for a 1500m Highway Handicap in two weeks.
The news wasn’t so good for Dale in Melbourne where Bitburg finished 10 lengths away in ninth in the $250,000 Inglis Dash won by Goulburn horse Hellbent.