Canberra trainer Matthew Dale's Fell Swoop aiming for $2.5m TJ Smith

Canberra trainer Matthew Dale says stable star Fell Swoop will "cement his spot" as a genuine weight-for-age, group 1 horse over the next "12-18 months", a journey which will start at Randwick on Saturday in the $2.5 million TJ Smith, Australia's richest sprint.

And while Nick Olive's maiden group 1 victory on the weekend "doesn't make my horse run faster", Dale believes having Canberra within a half-head of two group 1 wins in a month "shows Canberra has something to offer" owners of good horses.

Canberra trainer Mattew Dale is taking Fell Swoop to the $2.5m TJ Smith - Australia's richest sprint.
Canberra trainer Mattew Dale is taking Fell Swoop to the $2.5m TJ Smith - Australia's richest sprint. Photo: Graham Tidy

Fell Swoop was unlucky not to have won the Oakleigh Plate (1100 metres) at Caulfield a month ago when a short half-head was all that separated Dale from his first group 1 victory.

The son of Not A Single Doubt followed that up with a solid run in the $700,000 Galaxy (1100m) to finish 1½ -lengths fourth to Griante.

Dale felt Fell Swoop had earned a shot at Australia's best sprinters, stepping up to take on the big guns at WFA level - considered the top level of racing.

He admitted it was a "massive ask" for his four-year-old gelding, but he was confident it was the level Fell Swoop would establish himself at.


When asked if that would then open up races around the world, Dale was a little more cautious, although tellingly he didn't rule it out.

It's a path Takeover Target took Queanbeyan taxi driver Joe Janiak on, winning at Royal Ascot in England, Singapore and Japan on the way to accruing more than $6.3 million in prizemoney.

"He's still got a way to go. He's entered into handicap group 1s where he's run unbelievably well, WFA is another level on Saturday," Dale said.

"He's not a seasoned product just yet, but this will help him get there.

"Over the next 12-18 months I think he can build into a genuine WFA, group 1 horse and then from there, there's so many options."

Given the $2.5 million purse and the list of nominations, which reads like a who's who of Aussie sprinting, Dale is expecting a tough race.

He's set a goal of finishing top five, although said it would be "touch and go" to get into the field.

Fell Swoop is currently equal 28th in the ballot order, with 18 runners and four emergencies the maximum field for the TJ.

But there are several horses above him who definitely won't run, like Winx - who Chris Waller will take to the $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m) - with Tuesday's acceptances to give a clearer idea.

With Brenton Avdulla set to ride Terravista, Dale said Zac Purton will get the ride.

Exosphere ($2.80) is currently favourite, ahead of Chautauqua ($4.60), while Fell Swoop ($26) is on the fifth line of betting.

"No two ways about it, it'll be a very strong race, but it's a race we've had in the pipeline the whole preparation if he was to prove himself in the Oakleigh Plate and The Galaxy," Dale said.

"This is the Melbourne Cup of sprint races effectively ... this is going to be a massive ask for him up to WFA against the best sprinters."

Olive's filly Single Gaze produced a stunning victory in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday, giving the Canberra trainer his maiden group 1 victory and the ACT it's first group 1 since Camarena won the Queensland Derby in 1999.

If Fell Swoop hadn't got caught in traffic in the Oakleigh, Canberra would have had two group 1s in the space of a month.

"It certainly doesn't make my horse run any faster, but it's good for Canberra - within a month we've gone within a short half-head to having two group 1 winners out of Canberra, that's unbelievable, that wouldn't have happened in a lifetime," Dale said.

"That just shows Canberra's got something to offer and it's good for the area. It helps brings new owners and ... it's all positive."