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Matthew Dale aiming three runners for Country Championships

Gary Moore wins Black Opal Stakes with TakedownMatthew Dale wins three, including Canberra GuineasGoldman pays tribute to Walter after Canberra Cup winSydney trainer Peter Snowden wins National SprintHighlights from fashions on the field at Black Opal Stakes Day

Matthew Dale is aiming for a super Country Championships after a Super Sunday and is hoping for three runners in the qualifying race at Goulburn on March 20.

The Canberra trainer thinks Gocup Belle, Mystic Puzzle and Royal Jackpot should all qualify for Goulburn, with the first two to run in the $300,000 final at Randwick on April 4.

Gocup Belle saluted in the benchmark 65 handicap (1200 metres) at Thoroughbred Park on Sunday and Dale was delighted with the ride of jockey Brendan Ward.

His only concern was whether the four-year-old mare could run the distance at the Country Championships.

“She’ll go there over 1400 metres, first time up to that sort of trip, but that race only comes once a year so we’ll definitely have a look at it now,” Dale said.

“It’s a question mark [the distance] but she’s bred to get it. She settled a bit better today than she has been, so she’ll give it a good shake.

“It’s a big pull for anyone involved, the lure of a $300,000 final at Randwick. Everyone in the country wants to be there on Championships day.” Gratz Vella also aiming American Time for Goulburn

While American Time fell short of winning the listed Canberra Guineas (1200 metres) for Canberra trainer Gratz Vella, he is hoping to take the daughter of All American to the Goulburn heat of the Country Championships (1400m) on March 20.

The three-year-old filly lost no admirers after finishing fourth behind a gutsy Rom Baro.

“If she pulls up OK, there’s a big chance she will [run in the Country Championships],” Vella said.

“If you watch the replay, it was an enormous run. She was making up lost ground to finish the best after getting caught three wide the whole race.

“It’s hard to win in this company.” Pride wins Camarena in his own right

Queanbeyan product Joe Pride says he has finally had some luck in Canberra following Diamond Oasis’ win in the Camarena Handicap (1000 metres).

Having been born in the NSW town, Pride is emerging as one of Sydney’s best trainers, but he felt his old stomping ground had not been his best in recent years.

He won the Camarena two years ago when Shamus finished in a dead heat with Tony Sergi’s Diamond To Pegasus.

“I’ve never had much luck down here, to be honest,” Pride said. “I won this race a couple of years ago and only deadheated. I’ve never had much luck since, so hopefully that changes today.”

He felt Diamond Oasis could win at listed-group 3 level, but only in races no longer than 1100m. Snowden aims Courtza King at South Pacific Classic

Former Darley trainer Peter Snowden is aiming Courtza King at the listed South Pacific Classic (1400 metres) at Randwick on April 11 after a hard-fought win in the maiden plate (1200m) on Sunday.

The King held off Keikosan down the Thoroughbred Park straight to break his maiden status in just his second race.

“That showed me the ability that he has, but he’s got to learn his craft and he’s still very raw and very new,” Snowden said.

“He’s by the right stallion [Northern Meteor], he’s the half-brother to Hucklebuck, so he’s got a fair bit going for him.

“He’s going to town next start. I’ll be confident he can win there and if he does that then there might be a race later on for him at the carnival.

“I think the South Pacific Classic, I think that’s the ideal race for him, a listed race in the week of the Championships. It’s a high aim for him but I think this horse has that sort of talent.”

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