Leading Canberra trainer Matt Dale launches one of the more unusual three-prong assaults on Monday’s feature Merimbula Cup at the Sapphire Coast.
In fact, the meeting is almost serving as a fine-tuning exercise for several stables less than a week out from the big Black Opal Stakes and Canberra Cup carnival.
Heading the charge is Dale’s high-class stayer Shangani Patrol, who hasn’t raced for more than six months and comes in without an official trial. But the six-year-old son of former Victoria Derby winner Helenus has plenty of residual class from last winter when he was narrowly beaten in a BM 70 at Warwick Farm before an impressive BM 64 win at Sandown.
At the other end of the scale, stablemate Rinviata is well into his current preparation, and looking to recapture the form of four runs back when he bolted in a BM 70 at Gosford. Meanwhile, five-year-old top-weight Animalia, who is based at Moruya, will need to improve sharply after being well beaten first-up at Wagga.