From dawn to dusk and beyond, Dale blazes a trail

A day in the life of Canberra's Matthew Dale is this week set to test any notion that the pressures on a modern racehorse trainer can be justified by the rewards available.

Already one of the busier trainers in the country, Dale has a day on Friday that isn't to be envied - unless it produces a couple of winners.

He begins his day with regular duties that begin before dawn, he has a runner in an afternoon trial at Canberra followed by three more at the twilight meeting at the same track, another two at the Canterbury night meeting and another at Moonee Valley - 900 kilometres away.

With the philosophy that ''you do what you have to'' to win a race, Dale has spread his chances wide merely because that's where the races are.

Jackpot Queen, who runs in Heat 11 of the 55 Second Challenge (955 metres) at the Valley, is a perfect example of his willingness to go to wherever he believes the right race is being run.

The filly scored her first win at Wellington, in central NSW, her second at Randwick, her third at Flemington and her fourth at Caulfield. And at the Valley on Friday night, despite a wide draw and a disappointing last start at Flemington, a fifth is waiting.


''The jury's out on whether she's going to be as good as she was,'' Dale said. ''She's doing everything right at home - her work's as good as ever - but sometimes these fillies who shine as two-year-olds don't recapture that form at three.''

Dale, who will be at Canterbury, will rely on apprentice Andrew Stead to get Jackpot Queen comfortable enough to produce her best in a race where sheer speed is an obvious requirement.

Jackpot Queen will jump from barrier eight in the nine-horse field with some slick performers inside her and possibly the slickest on her outside.

Ready As Elle, a last-start course and distance winner, has gate nine and is trained by Leon Corstens, who has made a speciality of winning 55 Second Challenges.

''As long as she's comfortable, I think she'll run well,'' Dale said.

Dale is represented in Sydney by Unanimously, who is looking for his second successive win in the Canterbury Classic, and last-start Cowra Cup winner Signoret who runs in the Hennings Jewellers Handicap.