Front Page goes back-to-back in the $2m Kosciuszko

At the corresponding meeting last year, Matthew Dale approached fellow trainer Geoff Duryea to congratulate him on winning The Kosciuszko with Front Page.

Fast forward 12 months and the two men found themselves sharing the spotlight after Front Page made it back-to-back victories in the $2 million country feature at Randwick, the now-retired Duryea in the horse’s ownership group and Dale as his new trainer.

“I came up to Geoff this time last year and congratulated him on how well he presented the horse and he has handed me the keys,” Dale said, before turning to Duryea.

“Fourteen weeks ago, we had a few chats about how to prepare him and what he needs and we nailed it Geoff.”

Duryea made the surprise decision to retire in June and shortly after, he announced Front Page would be heading to Dale.

The Kosciuszko win was Dale’s biggest since relocating from Canberra to Goulburn at the end of last year, although he previously put the polish on Fell Swoop, who was a multiple Group 1 placegetter during 2016-17.

Dale admitted to feeling some pressure in the build-up to Saturday’s race but credited Duryea for sending him the horse in top order.

“Full credit to Geoff and his team, what they’ve done with this horse before giving him to me, I’m in awe and he told me every little thing I needed to know so I could be well prepped and have him as good as I could here today,” Dale said.

“It’s a great team effort, the horse has lived out on my farm for the last three weeks.

“We built a swimming pool just for him. I was always going to build one, but once I got him I said, ‘we’d better hurry this up’ because I knew the horse had had concussion plates on and we were going to need that to have him right on the day, and have him right we did.”

From Duryea’s perspective, he was more anxious this year than last as he wasn’t in control of proceedings.

“I was more nervous this year than last year because I was hoping Matt didn’t stuff it up,” Duryea quipped.

Jockey Tyler Schiller has been the common denominator in both of Front Page’s Kosciuszko victories and he said the horse was completely dominant.

“He got control of the race very easy this year,” Schiller said.

“I thought he quickened well from the top of the straight and then he just kept building, he felt like he never stopped.

“Last year he felt like he was a little bit reluctant to go and there were a few chasing, but not this year. He put them away very easy.”

Front Page $5.50 second favourite with online bookmakers scored by 1-3/4 lengths over Opal Ridge ($2.80 fav) with Far Too Easy ($7.50) another long neck away third.

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