They say fortune favours the brave but Cranbourne trainers Grant and Peter Dalziel could argue that phrase is rubbish.
Fortune went against the training duo after Victoria’s evolving Covid-19 situation cost them the chance to pull off an audacious Queensland Oaks raid with their smart filly Standoff.
Grant Dalziel was on his way north with Standoff when he got the worst possible news, advising him Queensland health authorities had decided to close the state’s borders to Victorians.
“We had all the right passes and all the clearances to travel,” he said.
“What was going to happen was we were going to get to Queensland and have a Covid test within a day of getting there and I could continue to work with the horse.
“I got to Tarcutta, halfway to Sydney, where there’s a horse hotel where your horse can camp there and you stay there too.
“I was having a bit of dinner when I got the message that all the rules had changed and unless you could get there by 1am, which was impossible, you might as well turn around and go home.”
Float issues before the stable purchased Standoff made putting her on a commercial horse transport impossible. Standoff needs to be handled by people she knows and trusts when travelling.
So Dalziel made the trip back to Cranbourne, aborting his bid for a maiden Group 1 win.
Standoff was an impressive winner at Flemington at her last start on May 22. Picture: Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Standoff had shown her talent with another win at Flemington on May 22, which convinced Dalziel the three-year-old was good enough to tackle the Queensland Oaks, noting the $600,000 race had fallen away in quality.
“It was a bit of a gamble but why I ended up going was that after she won at Flemington, she was fifth in (ballot) order for the Oaks,” Dalziel said.
“She wouldn’t be fifth at Flemington on Saturday. She’d probably be 12th in order there.
“You’ve got to think that it’s a Group 1 and she’d be very valuable even if she could run a drum in it.”
The fact Standoff had not raced beyond 1400m did not deter the Dalziels from targeting the Oaks.
Grant said the shorter 2200m distance and Standoff’s racing habits would have served her well in the race, especially with the services of champion jockey Damien Oliver.
“I wouldn’t have even considered it if it was a normal Oaks of a mile-and-a-half and not 2200(m),” he said.
“She’s just a natural get back and fall asleep horse and she’s done plenty of work. “
Dalziel said Standoff would run at Flemington on Saturday.
He added he would still like to take Standoff to Queensland for a race, if Melbourne’s lockdown ends in time, before giving the daughter of Smart Missile a spell in the northern sun.
Originally published asCovid change crushes Queensland Oaks hopes
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