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Canberra horseman Matthew Dale could throw his up-and-coming four-year-old Fell Swoop straight into the deep end during next year’s Melbourne Festival or Racing with a first-up run in the Oakleigh Plate 2016.
The gelding has proved the picture of consistency to date finishing out of the money just once with eight wins and a second from his 10 career starts.
His first foray in black-type class came just two runs back in his Melbourne debut when beating home his rivals by a minimum one and a half lengths with Damien Oliver, who rides race favourite Magic Artist in Perth’s Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) this weekend, aboard for the Listed The Cup Club Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 5.
Last time out Oliver retained the ride with the horse going to Caulfield on September 19 for another stakes win in Melbourne, defeating Charlie Boy by a quarter length in the Listed Testa Rossa Stakes (1200m).
Sent for a spell after that Dale resisted the temptation to step the horse up too quickly in class during the spring instead saving him for elite level during the autumn next year.
Looking at first-up options for the progressive gelding, Dale named the $400,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield Racecourse on Blue Diamond Stakes Day in late February as a possible option.
“I’ll just see how quickly he comes up and how well he comes up,” Dale told AAP on Sunday, saying the horse might go straight into the sprint classic without a lead-up run.
Four-year-olds have won two of the past seven Oakleigh Plates most recently Mick Price’s star sprinter Lankan Rupee (2014) two years ago.
Dale has had just the one starter in an Oakleigh Plate field but is hoping Fell Swoop can be his second and produce a better result than his previous unplaced runner.
Another possible Group 1 autumn spring for Fell Swoop is a trip to Sydney for the $400,000 The Galaxy (1100m) over the same distance as the Oakleigh Plate but at Rosehill Gardens on George Ryder Stakes Day in late March.
Unlike the Oakleigh, Dale has never had a runner in The Galaxy that was won this year by Gai Waterhouse’s four-year-old mare Sweet Idea.
“He’s the best horse that I’ve had and he’s still very raw and he’s still got a lot of upside,” Dale said of Fell Swoop.
“He’s got a great record and a great will to win and it’s still all ahead of him. So it is exciting heading into the autumn with a horse like that.
“Obviously he’s got to take a step up from listed grade, but I definitely think he can.”
Currently in pre-training for a week, the young gun is set to return to Dale’s Canberra stables on Tuesday to begin his returning preparations in earnest.
“We’ll see how he comes up and how much he improves this preparation and we’ll be looking towards the Oakleigh Plate and then three weeks later The Galaxy,” Dale confirmed.
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