By Ray Hickson
Fell Swoop will be given a third shot at the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes during The Championships if he proves to trainer Matthew Dale he’s back to his best.
The talented sprinter is in work at Dale’s Moruya stable and is still a few weeks off a trial.
Obviously there were high hopes for the six-year-old in the spring as he was selected by Inglis to run in the inaugural The Everest but after a torrid run he finished last and pulled up distressed and with the thumps.
“It took a couple of weeks for him to get over it then he thrived in the paddock for the next month,’’ Dale said.
“The signs are positive, ultimately until we get him back to the trials and the races it will tell the tale but it was a natural thing to clear the slate.
“He’s being trained off the beach this preparation and I’m happy with how he’s going at this stage.’’
At this stage Dale has Fell Swoop slated to trial at Goulburn on February 12 and he’ll likely have his first two runs of 2018 in Melbourne.
He’s targeting the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) second-up and if he’s regained his best form a third attempt at the $2.5m TJ Smith Stakes fits perfectly into his program.
Fell Swoop has finished second (2016) and third (2017) behind Chautauqua in the TJ and both were at his third run in the preparation.
“The (William Reid) sits two weeks before the TJ so the timeline is right, I just want to see him come back after a disappointing prep,’’ Dale said.
Meanwhile, Dale is preparing lightly raced four-year-old Super Star Bob as his main contender for the Provincial Championships series.
The gelding also hasn’t raced since Everest Day when he placed third behind Don’t Give A Damn in the Highway Consolation and will be back at the races early next month.
Dale said he’ll tackle the $150,000 Provincial Qualifiers at either Hawkesbury (on March 10) or Kembla Grange (March 24), or both, as he prefers to keep the gelding on bigger tracks.
“We’ll probably have another one or two runners but he’s the one that’s been brought back from a timeline point of view for those races,’’ Dale said.
The $500,000 Provincial Championship Final (1400m) is run at Royal Randwick on April 14.