Fell Swoop Wins Testa Rossa Stakes

Sep 23, 2015

~~Fell Swoop "lifted himself off the canvas" to "put Canberra back on the map" with a gutsy victory in the listed Testa Rossa Stakes (1200 metres) at Caulfield on Saturday.

While Canberra trainer Matthew Dale was unsure of where to next for his emerging star, he's targeted the group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100 metres) back at the same track in February.

Everything went wrong for the son of Not A Single Doubt - he lost a shoe before the race, got re-shod at the barrier and then was stuck three wide with no cover on the turn.

When the $2.50 favourite was headed by the Snowden-trained Charlie Boy with just 100 metres to go, the Canberra sprinter had every right to fade for a hard-fought place.

But he didn't. He dug deep, found another gear and clawed his was back to win by a neck from Charlie Boy, with Java third.

It made it four straight wins for the four-year-old gelding, including back-to-back listed salutes, and Fell Swoop's record is now eight wins from 10 starts for more than $300,000 in prizemoney.

"It was a super effort under the circumstances ... for him to fight back off the canvas like that and win, he's just an out-and-out winner and it was an unbelievable effort," Dale said.

"It's probably been a long time since a horse with this type of profile has evolved out of Canberra.

"It's been a number of years since [there's been] a horse with a winning record, let alone a winning record in the spring carnival in Melbourne.

"He's got a lot of press in Melbourne and a lot of press around Australia because he's a winner ... it's good to put Canberra back on the map."

While the Testa Rossa is classed as a listed race, Dale said this year's edition was well above that level.

"That race there was group 2-group 3 quality every day of the week. Every day of the week," he said.

"That was a stronger race than probably a group 2 in Brisbane.

"Charlie Boy has been narrowly beaten in a group 1, as has Java, both the horses that finished in the placings."

Originally, Dale had the group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200 metres) at Flemington in a fortnight in his sights if Fell Swoop performed well in the Testa Rossa.

Now, he's not so sure.

The ever patient and cautious Dale wants to see how his stable star pulls up from his draining run before making any plans.

Nothing and everything is back on the table.

"Nothing went right today from a mental point of view for the horse and we'll just get him home and see how he comes through before making any decisions," he said.

"No decisions will be made until later next week now, we'll just see how the horse comes through this.

"Anything's on the cards, absolutely any option is on the cards. I just want to be able monitor him through the next week."

But he did say the Oakleigh Plate could be a target once Fell Swoop had been for a spell and returned for the autumn.

"There's still a progression to be made, but at this stage yes we can realistically have [group 1 races] as a dream and head towards it," Dale said.

"A race like the Oakleigh Plate next preparation looks a likely option for him."