By Tony Megahey
Rising young trainer Scott Collings gives a concerted push for his strong filly And There Is More for the $60,000 TAB Highway Handicap (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday but is aware of dangers in a race predicted to be as hot as recent weather.
The Matthew Dunn and Matthew Dale stables have won 11 Highway events between them and according to Collings are returning for this episode with more outstanding prospects.
And There Is More bombed the start and came from last for a highly impressive 1200m win at Canberra recently, prompting Collings and his Capital Thoroughbreds partner Keith Dryden to immediately set her for a Highway.
They’ve won previous Highways with Halfpenny Gate and Force of Magic and are enjoying a spectacular first season combination with 26 winners out of their ACT and Goulburn stables.
“She’s a smart filly at the top of her game, we’ve booked Blake Shinn, the Randwick 1200m and long straight is ideal because Keith and I reckon she’ll get 1400m or further,” Collings enthused. “In both her wins she’s finished off strongly so the timing was right for a highway.
“Our one concern is at the barrier after the way she missed the jump at Canberra. She had that tendency as a two-year old but she’d been getting away cleanly before her last start.
“When you’ve got Matthew Dale and Matthew Dunn with first start maiden winners and their Highway success, you’ve got to bring your A grade game to town.
“Dale’s two (Clipper-Super Star Bob) both go pretty good and Dunn’s horse(Care To Think) is off a Gold Coast maiden win as well, but it wouldn’t here unless it was a realistic chance.
“Our filly has made the progression from a maiden to winning a class one so they’ll know she’s there on Saturday.”
Traditionally from a maiden to a class two is considered a tough task but the prolific Highway strike rates of Dunn and Dale counters the theory. But the chances don’t end there. Top-weight Nic’s Vendetta has three successive Highway placings, has been freshened and primed by a recent Gosford barrier trial win and dual Highway winner Norm Gardner has accepted with convincing last start Wagga winner Snowbrook who has beaten And There is More at Canberra.
Collings is hoping Shinn can position And There is More in the first half of the field but an outside barrier draw means complications.