Fell Swoop is headed for uncharted territory as Matt Dale makes another attempt to coax the dual TJ Smith Stakes placegetter from a form slump.
A permanent move to the Canberra trainer’s satellite stable at Moruya over autumn is yet to pay dividends for the six-year-old who has not won for almost two years.
Fell Swoop was runner-up and third to Chautauqua in the Group One TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) in 2016 and 2017 respectively, but finished eighth in the latest edition on April 7.
After over-racing midway through the race, Fell Swoop was checked at the 800m before finishing 8-1/2 lengths behind the winner Trapeze Artist.
After talking to his jockey Jay Ford who suggested Fell Swoop seemed to be looking for further, Dale nominated the gelding for Saturday’s Group One All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
“We have had it in our minds on previous occasions. Now is definitely the time to try it,” Dale said.
“He’s showing signs that he’s racing more like a 1400-metre horse.”
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Fell Swoop has gone close to 1400m on one occasion when sixth in the Group One Doomben 10,000 (1350m) in May, 2016.
“They went ridiculously quick that day so it wasn’t a real good indicator even though he was only beaten two-and-a-half lengths,” Dale said.
He was not surprised by Fell Swoop’s TJ Smith Stakes effort given his recent record.
“We were under no illusions. We knew going into the race he wasn’t going as well as the previous two years and he got a firm track, not a soft,” Dale said.
Fell Swoop’s last win came in the Group Two Victory Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on April 30, 2016.
“It happens a lot, you see two-year-olds that never come back and that pushes out to older horses as well,” he said.
“He’s had a lot of hard racing over the last couple of seasons where he’s put it all on the line. The last two preparations have been just a little bit below par without any major indication of lameness or anything like that.”
Fell Swoop was listed at $35 with the TAB ahead of Wednesday’s declaration of the final field with Trapeze Artist the $2.50 favourite ahead of Brave Smash and last year’s runner-up Le Romain at $7.