Sport

Matthew Dale claims fourth Highway Handicap with Hermosa Beach

Jockey Brenton Avdulla rode Hermosa Beach to Matthew Dale's fourth Highway Handicap win.
Jockey Brenton Avdulla rode Hermosa Beach to Matthew Dale's fourth Highway Handicap win. Photo: Bradley Photos

No sooner had Matthew Dale won his fourth Highway Handicap and the Canberra trainer was planning his attack on a fifth.

Hermosa Beach saluted in the 1400-metre race for country trained horses at Randwick on Saturday and Dale planned to return the daughter of Magnus to Sydney for another Highway Handicap in two weeks' time.

From there Dale was considering running in the Goulburn heat of the Country Championships on February 20.

Northern Fury was another horse he could take to the Goulburn heat.

"We're lucky enough with Hermosa Beach she can actually contest another Highway race in two weeks time," he said.

"[The Country Championships is] a possibility. I think she will be looking for a bit further, but if she comes out and wins impressively in two weeks time at Rosehill I would think that three weeks back into the Country Championships race at Goulburn would be a very real possibility."

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Dale said the Highway Handicap suited the type of horse he tried to have in his stable and was a perfect stepping stone from the country into midweek Sydney races.

Racing NSW introduced them in October last year to try and bolster fields by bringing more country horses to the Harbour City.

"They're obviously only a new inception, but they're designed to capture up-and-coming horses out of the country and that's what we design our stable on - nice progressive horses and try and progress them up through the grades into the city hopefully," Dale said.

"This is a nice stepping stone. It allows you to be able to springboard off  a nice Canberra win or the like and focus on a race like we did today."

After missing the start, Hermosa Beach settled midfield and jockey Brenton Avdulla positioned the five-year-old mare in the perfect spot before getting in the clear with about 200 metres to go.

From there she was too strong and held off a fast-finishing Red Hot Dane in second, while Another Valley was third.

Dale also had Bitburg running in the $250,000 Inglis Dash (1100m) at Flemington and Royal Jackpot in the benchmark 78 handicap (1600m) at Randwick, but neither showed.

"Bitburg showed signs he's had enough this preparation, the trip away sort of brought him undone," he said.

"He raced a bit over the top so he'll go for a spell, he's done a great job, and Royal Jackpot has shown a liking for firm surfaces this preparation and he didn't let down today on a choppy, slow 6."