Matt Dale cannot fathom why Canberra trainers will be excluded from Racing NSW’s Highway Handicaps from December, as he prepares to chase back-to-back wins at Randwick.
Dale, who has won 10 Highway races since they were introduced for country-trained horses in October 2015, says exclusion will adversely affect his business, and the operations of fellow trainers in the ACT.
“It’s a negative. People give you horses because they have the Highway in mind. Now those people will rethink that,” Dale said.
Dale was unconvinced by Racing NSW’s argument that Canberra’s facilities were in line with provincial, not country, counterparts and should be rated accordingly.
“That left me scratching my head,” he said.
“The justification puts it down to training facilities. Ours are akin to a place like Scone or Goulburn.
“I don’t see that as the sole reason, there must be more to it.”
Although Dale won the $60,000 Highway with Mossman Gorge at Rosehill last weekend, he said Canberra’s prominence was not a reason to exclude them from December 2.
“Matt Dunn (Murwillumbah) is the most dominant trainer in the Highways (11 wins).
“In the last eight or nine weeks we’ve had one winner (Mossman Gorge) and at a guess we’ve probably supplied 30 runners.”
Dale doubted Racing NSW would review its decision and said it will be disappointing to no longer have access to an ideal means of introducing talented horses to Sydney tracks.
He has Super Star Bob in Saturday’s Highway Handicap (1400m) with the four-year-old the joint second favourite with Schedule ($6).
“He’s looking to get back on to a bigger track. He wasn’t suited at Canterbury the other day on a tight, turning circuit,” Dale said.
“I had to start him at Canterbury because there wasn’t another option.”
Dale’s was pleased to draw four in the 14-strong field and have Tye Angland in the saddle as Super Star Bob tackles his third Highway.
“All things being equal he’ll be hard to beat,” he said.
The Dunn-trained Count Cumani led the TAB market on Thursday at $4.60.