Trainer Matthew Dale’s belief Fell Swoop will be suited to straight-track racing at Flemington will put to the test for the first time when the sprinter chases a Group One win in the $1 million Darley Classic.
“I think the straight will suit him, albeit he’s never seen it and there’s always that question mark on it going there for the first time,” Dale said.
“But he’s the sort of horse who likes to be balanced and keep in a good rhythm and a lot of the jockeys who have ridden him also believe he will be suited up the straight.”
Fell Swoop has been close to an elite-level win having finished second in three Group One sprints this year.
He is the equal favourite to finally snare one with Dale also chasing his first Group One win as a trainer.
“Obviously he was unlucky in the Oakleigh Plate and he ran out of his skin in the TJ Smith Stakes,” Dale said.
“His Manikato Stakes run last start was there for everyone to see. He didn’t get the perfect run, the speed map got thrown out pretty quickly, and he’s only gone down narrowly.”
Fell Swoop’s performance will determine whether he targets the Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap – both straight-track sprints at Flemington – next campaign before another crack at TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick.
Fell Swoop shares Darley Classic favouritism at $5.50 with Newmarket Handicap winner The Quarterback who has returned in top form this spring.
Dale said a case could be made for a number of runners.
He considers The Quarterback and Malaguerra, another proven down the straight, as the hardest to beat.
The field of 12 includes Lankan Rupee who has won a Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
Dale took Fell Swoop home to Canberra, which is usual practice, after his Manikato Stakes second behind Rebel Dane last Friday week and he is scheduled to return to Melbourne overnight on Thursday along with Matriarch Stakes-bound stablemate Rocket Commander.