It had been 958 days between drinks for Fell Swoop but the champion Canberra gelding returned to form in stunning style on Saturday.
Fell Swoop has shown he still has a turn of foot to be reckoned with, as Hugh Bowman led most of the way to win the Listed Handicap (1200 metres) at Randwick.
Right as rain: Hugh Bowman rides Fell Swoop (centre) to victory in the Razor Sharp Handicap on Saturday. Credit:AAP
The Matt Dale-trained seven-year-old has earned $1.8 million in a career that has featured stakes wins, niggling injuries and some heartbreaking near misses at the highest level.
''It's hard to put into words,'' Dale said.
"This horse has been the best horse I've ever had and he's been a long time between drinks.
"He's had a lot of little issues without anything being major but he just hasn't been right.
"But I said to the crew that this preparation he is right. I was rapt with his run first-up. I thought he should have won."
''I said to Hughie (Bowman) not to hand up the lead, to just free-flow and he rode him perfectly.
"He allowed him to get there easily early and after five weeks off and missing some work he was still strong at the line.
"It is a very proud moment for me and all my staff, my family, they know what it means."
Fell Swoop ($9) took the early lead from favourite Cradle Mountain ($1,90) and extended in the straight to put two lengths on him with Firsthand ($10) another long head third.
The win was Fell Swoop's fifth over 1200m while his Group One placings at the distance include a second and a third in the 2016 and 2017 TJ Smith Stakes, both won by Chautauqua.
"I've certainly figured in some close finishes on him, the Manikato [Stakes] comes to mind a couple of years ago when he was narrowly beaten," Bowman said.
"That’s a Group One weight-for-age and he's come here carrying less weight than that and I think he went better so that says a lot for Matty and where he’s got him.
"He obviously went off the boil for a prep or two but you know you can’t doubt what we just saw.
"Matt is a great trainer, does not aim at the big stars too often but when he gets the right horse he can certainly manage it and it’s a pleasure to win for him."
Dale said the Standish Handicap at Flemington on New Year's Day was the next aim for Fell Swoop.
The Canberra trainer began the day in winning fashion with Sei Stella who claimed her second Highway Handicap, leading all the way to beat Anchois.
CANBERRA – JOHN SCORSE
Race 1 No.1 Spectre
On the quick back up and gives away some weight here, but he is progressive and looks very hard to beat.
Race 3 No.9 Irish Lucy
Looked big in the yard first up and found the distance too short. Beautifully drawn and a second up winner she is good value here.
Tips: 1 Spectre, 3 Mickey Jay, 8 Reign Over Me, 7 Princess Tabitha
Spectre looks perfectly placed third up, was back and strong at the end at Nowra seven days ago. Big chance here. Mickey Jay much improved effort when placed last time over this trip. Will run well again. Reign Over Me has been close up in all runs this prep. A must in the exotics. Princess Tabitha – place chance here.
Tips: 2 We Could Be Heroes, 3 Admire Gratzi, 1 Bull Bailey, 6 Smiling At Shadows
We Could Be Heroes in very good form this prep. And most unlucky at Kembla Grange last time. Slight query on the trip but perfectly drawn. Admire Gratzi is a hot and cold customer. Struck his best last time and given the ground will suit perfectly here. Bull Bailey – big drop in grade from his last two runs. Strong win this class and distance. Smiling At Shadows – some chance.
Tips: 8 Rosecraft, 5 Revitup Rednut, 7 Lansala, 9 Irish Lucy
Rosecraft both runs this prep have been sound. Should be at her peak. Revitup Rednut, both efforts this prep very good. Beaten by the wide gate last time. That is the main worry again. Lansala – Smart type resuming here. Will be back but will finish strong. Irish Lucy, looked in need of the run at Sapphire Coast. Good second up form.
Tips: 3 Polar Star, 10 Fusca, 6 Farthing Wood, 7 Nine Circles
Polar Star is resuming for new yard but has shown good potential. Will be prominent from ideal gate. Fusca is a nice filly who was very good on debut when just out of the placings. Chance with the right run. Farthing Wood, former Victorian placed five from 11 runs. Finds the right race here. Nine Circles is next best.
Tips: 9 Lulu Raez, 3 Living Doll, 11 Hylonome, 4 Twirling Moss
Lulu Raez is a consistent mare who races well fresh, drawn to get all the favours here. Living Doll is in top form this prep and suited back to the 1000m. Needs it dry. Hylonome is a super impressive winning maiden here last time. Can repeat the dose. Twirling Moss is a very speedy and will be prominent all the way.
Tips: 6 Laughing or Crying, 7 Confidential, 1 Magic Over the Bay
Laughing or Crying, a super consistent this prep unlucky last start and looking for this distance. Confidential, strong staying type who is on the improve. Well suited here. Magic Over the Bay – Much improved effort last time. Strong chance with the claim. Palamedes is next best.
Tips: 2 Valansa, 9 Vigourish, 1 Animalia, 14 Riverset
Valansa, a nice horse who is in for a very good prep. Super effort first up, hard to beat here. Vigourish is knocking on the door this prep. Down in weight and will be in the finish. Animalia – resuming for the new stable here. Can run a cheeky race fresh. Riverset – in top form this prep. Lightweight chance here.
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