Trainer Matt Dale has revealed that he is yet to settle on the first-up target for stable star Fell Swoop during the forthcoming 2017 Autumn Racing Carnival.
Fell Swoop has been a standout performer for Dale throughout his entire racing career so far, but reached his greatest heights so far during a standout 2016 campaign that peaked with four placings at Group 1 level.
Dale has been pleased with the condition of the Not A Single Doubt gelding since his return to work this time, but told AAP that he will allow his work and progression to decide which of the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) or Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) in February will figure has his carnival launch pad.
“He had a few bits of pace work last week and had his first gallop back on Tuesday,” Dale said.
“His workload is starting to progress.
“He’s coming along nicely and everything is on track for him.
“He’ll either kick off in the Lightning Stakes or the Oakleigh Plate in February and be aimed third-up into the TJ Smith Stakes again.
“They are a week apart so we don’t have to stress at the moment. He’s on target from a timeline point of view.
“He was effective up the straight at his first and only crack at it in the Darley Classic which gives me the confidence to leave the Lightning as an option.
“But certainly he’s obviously been effective at Caulfield over 1100 metres as well, first-up two preparations ago when he almost won the Oakleigh Plate.
“They are both good options to have and we’ll finalise that as we get a bit closer.”
Fell Swoop stamped himself as a horse to follow upon debuting to black type company during the 2015 Spring Carnival and returned to racing last year for an agonizingly-close second to Flamberge in the Oakleigh Plate.
Finishing a credible fourth following a tough run in transit in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m), Fell Swoop was beaten only by Chautauqua in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) during The Championships, and ended his season with three starts north of the border; highlighted by a smart win in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m).
Resuming in spring for third in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m), Fell Swoop placed second behind Rebel Dane in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) and was last seen running on for third in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) on November 5th.