Dale Plots Path to TJ Smith Stakes 2018 for Fell Swoop

March 2, 2018

Dale Plots Path to TJ Smith Stakes 2018 for Fell Swoop

A return to racing at Flemington on Saturday for Fell Swoop will hopefully kick-off a campaign that ends with a 2018 TJ Smith Stakes run in Sydney during ‘The Championships’ according to the now Moruya-based trainer Matthew Dale.

Fell Swoop

Fell Swoop heads towards the 2018 TJ Smith Stakes this April having run third in the race last autumn. Photo: Daniel Costello.

Six-year-old Not A Single Doubt gelding Fell Swoop hasn’t raced since finishing off a disappointing spring campaign to run dead last behind Redzel in the inaugural $10 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick in mid-October.

That followed on from two other unplaced runs at the Randwick track and the flat ninth in Brisbane’s Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) during the winter.

In fact, the last time Fell Swoop finished in the money was in the Group 1 $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) last April and it is that same sprint classic Dale has the galloper targeting again this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.

It has been a long time between drinks for Fell Swoop who, over a 26 start career, has amassed close to $1.8 million in prize money thanks to a number of Group 1 minor placings.

His latest victory was back in April of 2016 in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) at Doomben so it is a notable drought he is out to break first-up at Flemington this Saturday on Australian Guineas Day.

Fell Swoop kicks off his campaign in the Listed $120,000 ATA/Bob Hoysted Handicap (1000m).

It will be only the second time the sprinter has raced at Headquarters after a brave third when just a half-length off the winner Malaguerra in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) back in November of 2016.

Brought-on fitness wise for the first-up run, Fell Swoop comes off a winning Goulburn hit-out over 800m from February 12 and has Mark Zahra booked for the ride.

“We’d love him to win and give him a real confidence boost,” Dale told Racing Victoria.

“The Darley is the only race he’s contested up the straight and on that occasion there was a massive head wind and he went down half a length after getting no cover, it was a super effort.

“We are happy to be kicking off there and it creates a really nice timeline for him.”

Carrying the equal 60kg top weight with the Mick Price-trained Secret Agenda, the latest Bob Hoysted Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au list Fell Swoop as the $4.20 second favourite behind Robert Sangster Stakes winning mare who is also first-up on the weekend.

Dale opted to save Fell Swoop for this easier assignment on Saturday as opposed to running him first-up last weekend in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield, a race the horse ran sixth in last year and second to Flamberge in 2016.

“We want a more balanced approach to this preparation, as opposed to the hustle and bustle of an Oakleigh Plate,” Dale said.

“He was defeated only a narrow margin in the race two years ago and then knuckled at the start and cut his heel in last year’s edition.

“So we’ve opted for a more balanced, confident approach this year.

“He’s coming off a disappointing spring preparation which ended in him having the thumps after The Everest, it was a deflating preparation and it took him longer to get over that run than usual.

“Now all the indicators are really positive since we’ve switched him to the new facility where he’s trained off the beach.

“It’s a new stable for me and Fell Swoop has been there for about three months.

“In NSW not a great deal of people utilise the beach, but in Victoria it’s well documented how the beach can turn horses around, and particularly older horses, and that was the mindset for us setting up this new stable.

“It’s a totally different training regime for the horses and it’s as well as I’ve felt Fell Swoop for some time, I hope it can flow onto race day.

“He’s very happy there, he’s physically sound and well and bright.”

Dale is hoping to get Fell Swoop back to Group 1 form and plans to target the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 23 before heading to Sydney for another go at the TJ Smith Stakes on April 7.

“After Saturday it is three weeks until the G1 William Reid Stakes and then 15 days into the T.J. Smith Stakes, that’s the route we’re looking at,” he said.

All-in TJ Smith Stakes odds currently list last year’s third placegetter as a $101 roughie hope in futures markets led by the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Redzel ($4.60).

To back Fell Swoop first-up on the weekend and to access the best early Group 1 racing odds and offers across the autumn head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.

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