By Ray Hickson
He’s already been part of The Everest, now Matt Dale is taking aim at the $1.3m The Kosciuszko with enduring sprinter Fell Swoop.
While Dale’s immediate focus is continuing new recruit Notation’s winning run at Randwick on Saturday he believes Fell Swoop has a good case to be an attractive Kosciuszko runner.
Although rising eight, Fell Swoop was a Listed winner at Randwick last preparation and recorded placings behind Alizee and Whispering Brook at stakes level.
“He’s obviously of age but he had a really solid preparation winning the Listed race over that track and distance and running second to Whispering Brook in the Group 2 down in Melbourne,’’ Dale said.
“It looks a really good race for him to target.
“He’d have the best track and distance record by far of any country horse, placing in two TJ Smiths and winning that Listed race only last preparation.’’
Fell Swoop, who contested the inaugural Everest, will start his pacework next week having completed the early stages of his training.
He was last seen finishing at the tail in the Group 1 TJ Smith behind Santa Ana Lane but pulled up with cardiac arrhythmia and was immediately spelled.
Dale’s current plan for Fell Swoop is to have him ready to race around September 7, probably in Melbourne – the Kosciuszko sweep draw is three days later – and tackle the feature third-up.
There are two places available for Canberra trained horses in this year’s expanded 14 runner Kosciuszko and after the Everest experience Dale said it’s a race he and the horse’s owners want a part of.
With the news Fell Swoop is targeting The Kosciuszko, where he’s likely to carry 59kg, TAB inserted the gelding on the fourth line of betting at $8.
“It’s such an exciting and unique concept that was fresh last year and can only gather momentum this year,’’ Dale said.
“You have the veteran sprinter like himself and your up and comers like Noble Boy coming onto the scene. The race looks to set up with a few different angles this year.’’
Meanwhile, Dale will use Saturday’s Winter Racing Handicap (1400m) at Randwick to get a guide on where Notation should head in the coming months.
The filly ($5.50 with TAB on Thursday) posted a gritty win at Randwick two weeks ago, over the Bjorn Baker-trained Connemara, at her first run for the stable and the trainer can only see upside.
“She’s bounced through it really well, worked nicely and eaten well since,’’ Dale said.
Notation wins at Randwick on June 22
“Obviously she goes up in weight, slightly offset by the claim but all the indicators are positive.
“We’re still learning about her, we’ll take her through the benchmarks and assess where she fits as we go. We’ll get a better idea through Saturday and look at the programming options.’’
Dale said he’s been loath to change anything with the former Hayes & Dabernig three-year-old, who has won four from seven, and believes stepping up in distance will only be more to her liking.
“The horse of Bjorn’s looked to have her cold but she really knuckled in and they drew clear from the third horse,’’ he said.
“She has a good competitive nature on that front and that’s why she has a good winning record.’’