Trainer Matt Dale is confident Fell Swoop can handle 1300m in the Group One Canterbury Stakes.
Matt Dale has been waiting for the right time to extend Fell Swoop beyond his traditional distance range and he has finally found it.
The seven-year-old will race beyond 1200 metres for just the second time in his career when he takes his place against a crack field of sprinters in the Group One Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on Saturday.
His only other run over a similar distance was in the 2016 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) when he became caught in a speed battle and Dale felt the horse did not get a genuine chance to run it out.
“For some time we’ve been wanting to start him up over 1300, 1400 metres,” Dale said.
“He was going to run in the CF Orr a number of weeks ago but had an issue when he was reshod, he was just shod up a bit tight, so he missed that and hence why he had to go around in the Oakleigh Plate.
“He’s racing in good spirits. The Oakleigh Plate is just a bit hard and fast and sharp for him these days and we knew that going into it.
“He probably sets up better at 1200 metres and beyond now.”
Fell Swoop finished just behind the placegetters in the Oakleigh Plate, an effort that followed minor placings behind Whispering Brook in the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley and top mare Alizee in the Christmas Classic.
He was also nominated for the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on Saturday and while Dale felt he was well weighted with 52.5kg, the trainer decided the Canterbury Stakes was a better option.
“We did have him nominated there but it’s going to be a big field and likely a firm and fast track at Flemington,” Dale said.
“He’s just showed a liking for a little bit of sting out of the track now and he’s a better chance of getting that at Randwick.”
Fell Swoop will be one of the outsiders in a sharp field headed by Trapeze Artist, Pierata, Kementari and Shoals.
But as the likely leader and with race fitness on his side, Dale expects his charge to be competitive.
“It’s an intriguing little race and we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
It will be a busy weekend for Dale who will also have a strong hand in the Black Opal Stakes meeting at his home track of Canberra on Sunday when his runners include Sausedge in the Guineas (1400m) and Sayed, who backs up from a fourth to Goathland at Randwick last weekend into the Canberra Cup (2000m).
“We’ve got a handful of runners so if we can get a winner or two that would be great,” Dale said.