Dolan likes Toretto’s chances in Goulburn’s southern wild card qualifier

Robbie Dolan guides the Matthew Dale-trained Toretto to victory in the 2022 Tony Campbell Memorial Cup in Canberra. Photo: Bradley Photos.

An in-form Robbie Dolan believes he is on the right horse in Friday’s Country Championships southern wild card qualifier at Goulburn when partnering the Matthew Dale-trained Toretto. 

After being held up on the home straight, Dolan rode the five-year-old to a fast-finishing third behind the Nick Olive-trained Kimberley Secrets in the South East qualifier ay Moruya on March 5. 

Toretto was the only horse to make up a lot of ground in the $150,000 event, and Dolan explained that it was a good run considering the track conditions on the day. 

“He felt really good, and obviously the track was pretty biased, and it was a bit of a leader’s track, but I thought he ran well,” Dolan said. 

“It was a weird track in the sense that it was a soft track, but it raced like a good track and the inside was a couple of lengths better, and because we got so far back, I had to ride him for luck. 

“The front-runners skipped away, and he was one of the only horses all day to make up ground, and to finish third I thought was a good effort.”

Currently an $11 chance, Toretto is unbeaten at Goulburn in two starts, and Dolan believes the big straight and home track advantage will suit his charge. 

“He’s back to his home track on Friday and Matty Dale really believes the horse is going to be competitive again, and that’s enough for me,” Dolan said. 

“Goulburn is a very fair track, and a good track for horses to come from the back, and I think we will be riding for a bit of luck again. 

“He is naturally a horse that gets back, and he is such a big horse; when you see him in the flesh, he is massive, so it’s just about getting him into a rhythm and relaxed, and he has that good turn of foot over the last 300m, and I definitely think he will be making his presence felt on Friday.” 

The 2023 Country Championships starts to heat up over the next two weeks, with Friday’s southern wild card qualifier at Goulburn quickly followed by the northern wild card qualifier at Scone on Sunday, while the $500,000 final will be run and won at Royal Randwick on April 1. 

Dolan is a fan of the country-only concept too, and he is excited to be involved.

“It’s great for country racing, and I don’t think many country stables will disagree,” Dolan said. 

“It brings those country stables into the spotlight, whereas they might not have had the opportunity otherwise, and we are seeing plenty of jockeys heading to these tracks, like Hughie (Bowman) and James (McDonald) did last year at Coonamble, and I really believe it is a good all-round innovation for country racing.”

It’s a loaded race at Goulburn, with some of the best gallopers from the Southern Districts, South East, and Central Districts doing battle for their place in the finall, but Dale knows how to win a wild card qualifier, having taken out the race in 2022 with Cavalier Charles.

Last year, there was only one wild card qualifier at Scone worth $50,000, but with both the northern and southern qualifiers worth $150,000 in 2023, Dale is pleased to have it on his ‘back doorstep’ this year. 

“It’s a great idea that they have split the two wild cards; I think that’s a really good idea and good concept,” Dale said. 

“The timing is good for us; we had 12 days between the Moruya heat into the wild card, and it’s a similar sort of time frame into the final if you happen to win it.”

As far as Toretto’s chances, Dale was thrilled with his third at Moruya, and he believes the big bay gelding will appreciate being back on his home deck.

“Toretto was super,” Dale said. 

“He got held up at the top of the straight, lost all his momentum, and built right through the line, and I thought his effort nine weeks between runs was really, really good and he appreciates this track.”

It’s shaping to be a big day at Goulburn and for more on the day click here and for fields click here

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