By the time trainer Andrew Dale’s head hits the pillow on Saturday night he would have clocked up more than 3000km travelling this week.
The Wangaratta trainer has been forced to travel far and wide throughout Victoria to race after Racing NSW banned Victorian-based racehorses from entering NSW.
Dale’s hectic week started last Sunday where he made the 500km round trip to race at Moonee Valley.
Tuesday involved one of the shortest trips of the week to Seymour which is 300km.
Dale was back on the highway again the following day where Cranbourne was the destination and clocked up a further 600km.
On Saturday Dale is off to Donald for the first time of his training career which is an eight hour trip and a further 700km.
Sunday Dale will travel to Wodonga which will seem like a stroll in a park but is still a 140km round trip.
All this on top of the daily 100km return trek from Myrtleford to his Wangaratta stables which adds another 700km a week.
In eight days, Dale will have amassed more than 3000km and 30 hours of travel.
That’s without the daily grind of training his horses.
But don’t expect the hard-working trainer to complain about his arduous week.
“It’s been an incredibly busy week but I’m not complaining,” Dale said.
“I haven’t done anywhere near that amount of kilometres in a week previously.
“But it’s a matter of taking your horses where you think they are going to be most competitive and they can’t earn prizemoney standing in their box at the stable.
“With the restrictions that are in place we obviously can’t race in NSW in the short-term.
“But the positive is there is still racing and you have an obligation to your owners to race wherever you can.
“We are really lucky that we have been able to continue to race in both states and the racing authorities should be applauded for the job they have done.”
While some trainers employ staff to take their gallopers to far-flung destinations, Dale prefers to accompany his horses on race day.
“I’ve been taking the horses myself,” he said.
“I like to attend the meetings where my horses are racing and I tend to go to them all if I can.
“It’s just the nature of running a small business.
“Obviously the travel has added a lot of extra hours to my schedule but it certainly beats the alternative of not racing and being able to generate an income.
“There were some suitable races for my gallopers at Wagga on Tuesday.
“But you can only play with the cards you are dealt with.
“I’m fully supportive of the restrictions and the rules that are in place and hopefully everything returns to normal as soon as possible.”
Dale praised his staff which includes his oldest son Frazer for keeping the stable running smoothly as he travelled up and down the highway.
“You obviously need good staff to keep the stable running while I’m travelling which fortunately I’ve got,” he said.
“Not only do the horses have to get worked but there is the daily routine of stable life.
“The track riders and staff make my job a lot easier.
“On Wednesday for instance I left for Cranbourne at 9am after working the horses and got back to the stables at 6pm.
“But as I said I’m not complaining about it.
“There are dozens of trainers throughout Victoria who do a lot more kilometres than me on a regular basis.
“I suppose that is the benefit of training on the border pre-restrictions.
“We are lucky in that we can race in NSW and access a lot of tracks in the Southern districts without travelling big distances.
“Rarely do you have to venture outside the North-East or Southern districts unless you have got a horse good enough to compete in the city.
“It’s just at the moment that I have to solely race in Victoria.
“At the end of the day it is about training winners and the satisfaction you get makes it all worthwhile no matter how far you have travelled.”
Wangaratta’s next meeting is not until August 22 and only has four meetings before Christmas.
Dale felt the Wangaratta track was under-utilised by Racing Victoria considering the club boasts one of the best horse racing complexes in regional Victoria after its recent $7 million upgrade.
“If Racing Victoria was to program more meetings at Wangaratta it would be super,” he said.
“We have got fantastic facilities and the track is in fantastic condition and can cope with the wear and tear of winter racing.
“There are some tracks in the North-East that don’t cope well with winter racing like Seymour and Benalla.
“Wangaratta has previously picked up a few transferred meetings from other tracks and if we could race there more often it would be a positive for North-East trainers.”
Mitch Beer has been in a similar predicament to Dale this week and is another local trainer who has spent long hours driving up and down the highway.
Beer was on the outskirts of Sydney on Tuesday with stablemates Zaberfeldie and Jawwaal only to learn that the meeting at Warwick Farm the following day had been abandoned.
The meeting was called off as a precautionary measure after a number of COVID-19 cases were recorded in close proximity to the racecourse.
Beer also made the 12-hour round trip to Dubbo on Friday with four runners.
He tweeted that some of the runners could have raced at Wodonga on Sunday which is only 8km away but raced at Dubbo instead because of the restrictions.
Words: Border Mail
Image: Border Mail