By Ray Hickson
As far as earning his stripes for October’s $1.3m The Kosciuszko are concerned, trainer Matthew Dale is confident Man Of Peace doesn’t need to do a lot more to prove his value as a contender.
But the Canberra trainer is confident the in-form eight-year-old can further stamp his credentials by completing a hat-trick in the Spring Preview Handicap (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Dale admits Man Of Peace didn’t initially jump out at him as his number one Kosciuszko contender but his runaway win over Kordia at Randwick two weeks ago was very convincing.
“I thought something would have to stand up, and up and comer, I did have Man of Peace in the back of my mind as a rough chance but thought he may not be able to showcase himself at that trip,’’ Dale said.
“I think he has done enough. There’s not a horse that has a record like him at Randwick that’s in contention. We showed we can freshen him back to 1300m and be dominant.
“It told me whether he could win a Kosciuszko and it showed the public, I think he passed that test with flying colours and beat some nice horses.”
Man Of Peace sits on the $11 line in TAB’s Kosciuszko market and is one of the favourites at $4.80 to continue his winning streak on Saturday.
Dale said there’s every chance Man Of Peace will race again before The Kosciuszko but where and when is up in the air – if he wins again he takes his rating beyond 100 so the bar has to be raised.
“He still may have a break after Saturday but he’s thriving in work and sometimes you can overthink turning them out,’’ Dale said.
“We don’t have many race options to map out a plan, he’s effectively sitting there on Listed grade rating and we can’t utilise Melbourne so it’s a little tricky to work out how to get there.”
When it comes to Saturday’s assignment Dale can only see positives for Man Of Peace, he strikes another wet track and has the 3kg claim for Louise Day, who is unbeaten on the gelding, in a race that is a start off point for many of the major chances.
He knows the horse can work at both ends of a race, as he showed two weeks ago working hard to assume control then running the fastest last 200m (12.88, Punter’s Intelligence) of the 1300m event, and is very fit.
“It’s opportunistic, it’s a Listed style of race but we can use the claim because it’s an open company race so I think he is well placed again,’’ he said.
“He’ll roll forward again, that’s his thing, that’s how he races and we won’t be changing anything.”
Dale said he can make a case for his TAB Highway (1200m) runner Feel The Knight ($6.50) to bounce back to his best form after an excusable unplaced effort behind Emeralds at Canterbury on August 5.
He chased home Leo in a 1000m Highway first-up and Dale said his biggest issue is where to go from his near the outside barrier.
Man Of Peace wins at Randwick on August 1
“The horses that beat him home had genuine Saturday grade form but I thought he raced a little below his best,’’ he said.
“He’s nowhere near as fresh and I think he can run a handy race even though we have an awkward draw.
“We’ll have to make a call (on what to do from the barrier), he’s not a designated leader and he’s not a backmarker so it makes it a bit tricky. If he can repeat his first-up performance he’s a genuine chance.”
Meanwhile, Dale said last week’s impressive winner New King will contest a 1600m Benchmark 78 at Randwick on Saturday week.
The third running of the $1.3m The Kosciuszko (1200m) at Royal Randwick will be held on October 17 and the $5 tickets are on sale via TAB outlets and the TAB app until Wednesday 8 September with the 14 winners drawn a day later.
The 14 winners can then enter into a partnership with the owners of their preferred horse, effectively becoming a part-owner for the day, and agree to a split of the prizemoney.