Kosciuszko Threepeat One Of Dale’s Options For Front Page

Whether dual Kosciuszko winner Front Page is back to attempt a threepeat later this year depends on results in his next couple of starts but trainer Matt Dale is confident the gelding will be racing at Randwick on October 19.

Matthew Dale with dual Kosciuszko winner Front Page (Pic: Bradley Photos).

Dale said Front Page will be prepared to be racing on that day, first-up, in either the $2m The Kosciuszko, the $3m Sydney Stakes or, if he’s allowed to dream, the $20m TAB Everest.

The seven-year-old, narrowly beaten in the Galaxy first-up last month, returns to the Kosciuszko course in Saturday’s Group 3 $250,000 TAB Hall Mark Stakes (1200m).

“You aim him for that day, first-up, to be peaking,’’ Dale said.

“He’ll be in the Kosciuszko or the Sydney Stakes, or if some level of stars align he could be in an Everest. You don’t have to stress too much about it, it’s great they’re all on the one day.

“That was the silver lining of getting nabbed near the line in the Galaxy. If you want to find a positive, the positive was we could still go to a Kosciuszko.

“He’ll most likely contest another Group 1 between now and then and naturally if he won he’s not eligible.

“But there are those two other races on the day at the same track and distance, so there are options for him regardless of how things unfold.”

Front Page led until the shadows in the Group 1 Galaxy (1100m), running third behind Zapateo, and Dale can’t help but think the difference was having to work a bit early from a wide gate to clear the field.

That won’t be an issue in the Hall Mark from barrier two and Dale said it’s up to the gelding to hold his form from another excellent first-up performance.

Although he’s only in his second preparation for Dale, the trainer said that’s something he’s noticed Front Page, $2 with TAB on Wednesday, has struggled to do previously but believes the Hall Mark is the perfect race to prove he can bounce through such a run.

His first-up stats read five wins from nine attempts but second-up it’s just one from seven, though his last three have been in Group 1s.

“He just had to stamp to get across in the Galaxy, that’s racing and he’s done well since,’’ Dale said.

“All his best ratings have been fresh. The difference is this preparation I’ve learnt more about him.

“Last prep he’d had a few foot issues in and around his preparation that upset everything going completely swimmingly.

“All indications from my point of view are that he will run extremely well.

“He’s well placed at the set weights conditions, if it was a Group 3 handicap he’d have horses chasing him with five or six less kilos.

“We can’t have him placed any better to perform second-up which is something he’s got to do. If he’s ever going to do it then it’s Saturday.”

Dale has in-form mare Occhiata eyeing her fourth win for the stable in the TAB Highway (1400m).

She was denied a hat-trick on Country Championships day at Moruya on March 3 but bounced back with a strong Class 2 win at Nowra at the end of the month.

“She came to me as a maiden and this prep she’s won a few races for us,’’ he said.

“Her confidence is up and she’ll appreciate a good tempo, Louise (Day) knows her well and I think she can acquit herself well.”

The Goulburn trainer said there’s one trick to Occhiata and with the promise of a solid tempo in a capacity field he’s confident enough she’ll have something to chase down.

“The deal with her is, if she hits the lead too early she thinks and stops,’’ he said.

If Mystery Shot gains a start in the Catanach’s Jewellers Handicap (1400m) at Randwick he’ll run there with Dale keen to get his preparation started under 52kg as opposed to the 65.5kg he’s been allotted in the back-up plan at Canberra on Friday.

– Racing NSW

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