Queensland on radar for Festival Dancer

Matthew Smith is hoping the decision to take a patient approach with promising filly Festival Dancer can help her deliver a Group 1 win this season.

The three-year-old resumes in the James H B Carr Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday as a steppingstone towards a winter campaign in Brisbane where her ultimate goal will be the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm on June 4.

“We made a plan not to rush her back and take our time to get her ready,” Smith said.

“She is a progressive filly. She proved she can race at that (black-type) level and Queensland is not as strong as Sydney.

“For all those reasons, we thought we would wait and target Queensland.”

The winner of four races in succession during the spring, Festival Dancer usually takes a run or two to hit her straps and Smith again expects her to need the hit-out on Saturday in what will be her first start since a Sandown Guineas placing in November.

Stablemate Ellenmac has been paid up for the same race but is unlikely to take her place on a heavy track.

Smith’s Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes winner Nimalee is also in some doubt to back-up in Saturday’s All Aged Stakes (1400m) after drawing an outside barrier.

While the mare has come through last weekend’s win in great order, Smith says gate 14 has made her task difficult and he may save her for a crack at the weight-for-age Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast next month.

“I’m not sure if she will run because I wanted to draw a good gate,” Smith said.

“I will have a chat to the owners and see what they want to do but to come back in trip, you need everything to be right.”

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