Smart sprinter Fell Swoop will kick off his 2017 Autumn Carnival campaign in the Group 1 $500,000 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 25.
Fell Swoop was among the nominations for the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington this Saturday but Canberra trainer Matthew Dale has elected to wait the extra week and head to Caulfield.
“I was always leaning towards the Oakleigh Plate but was keeping both options open,” Dale told AAP.
“The Lightning ended up being about as deep as it could have been, and we decided to opt for the Oakleigh Plate to kick off in.
“He kicked off in the Oakleigh Plate this time last year and he will follow a similar path, although he may go to the Newmarket instead of The Galaxy on route to the TJ Smith Stakes.”
Fell Swoop stepped out first up in last year’s Oakleigh Plate and flashed home for a nose second to Flamberge before going on to run fourth to Griante in the Group 1 $700,000 Banjo Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill on March 19.
The Not A Single Doubt gelding then raced on the pace but couldn’t hold off the finishing burst of Chautauqua when runner up in the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on the first day of ‘The Championships’.
Dale said that there is a good chance that Fell Swoop could miss the Galaxy this year and stay in Melbourne for the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 11 before heading to Sydney for the T J Smith on April 1.
Fell Swoop has performed well in the past but is yet to win at Group 1 level after being placed on four occasions in the top grade.
As well as being placed in the 2016 Oakleigh Plate and T J Smith Stakes, Fell Swoop was beaten a head by Rebel Dane when runner up in the Group 1 $1m Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley and then ran third behind Malaguerra and Spieth in the Group 1 $1m Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington during the 2016 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
“It’s an amazing record without winning one, you can’t have gone much better than he did,” Dale said.
In early betting for the T J Smith Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au Fell Swoop is listed as a $26 chance while the Team Hawkes trained Chautauqua heads the market order at $6.