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Rocket Commander cleared for take-off

Rocket Commander returns to the track to launch her tilt at the Queen Of The Turf Stakes refreshed after an unscripted success in her last start at Randwick.

Sydney’s wet weather convinced the mare’s trainer Matt Dale and her owners to run her in the Group Three Wenona Girl (1200m) on March 4, a change of tactic that produced the seventh win of the five-year-old’s career.

“It wasn’t the original plan to drop back to 1200 metres but once the rain came that became a really good option and she got the result,” Dale said.

Her next wet track assignment is Saturday’s Group Two Emancipation Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.

Rocket Commander returns to her preferred distance in fine fettle for her lead-up to the Group One Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on April 8.

“She’s been three weeks between runs. She’s in good order and obviously has an appreciation for wet tracks,” Dale said.

Rocket Commander is an $11 chance with Daysee Doom the $4.40 favourite in a 12-strong field Dale described as “very open”.

“You can make a case for the almost the whole field to be honest. A heavy track changes things,” he said.

“It’ll come down to who handles a wet track and who has a bit of luck in running.”

Although Dale is content with a heavy Rosehill track, he hopes the weather improves ahead of Fell Swoop’s bid for the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick on April 1.

Runner-up to Chautauqua a year ago, the five-year-old goes to the race after back-to-back sixths in the Oakleigh Plate and The Galaxy.

“Everything’s in order there. Joao Moreira is booked to ride. He’s comes through his run on Golden Slipper Day in very good order,” Dale said.

The trainer said there were mitigating factors for Fell Swoop’s recent performances.

“He knuckled in the Plate and galloped on himself. Second-up was the heaviest track he’s raced on and he wasn’t totally comfortable,” Dale said.

“Hughie (Bowman) didn’t knock him about once he wasn’t handling the tough conditions. He’s come through it well.”

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