The final field for Sunday’s marquee race at Canberra, the 2012 Black Opal Stakes, has been revealed with the John O’Shea-trained Sydney youngster Faustus a surprise acceptor for the lucrative juvenile’s feature.
Unbeaten More Than Ready colt Faustus, winner of an 1100-metre Rosehill handicap on debut last November, is out to maintain their flawless record first-up on the weekend but whether it will be in the $250,000 Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m) is still to be confirmed.
O’Shea has also accepted Faustus for the first at Warwick Farm’s Chipping Norton Stakes Day program in Sydney on Saturday, the $100,000 Schweppes Plate (1100m).
With continued rain in Sydney threatening the meeting, Warwick Farm currently rated a Heavy (10), O’Shea may perhaps have his mind changed about the Black Opal Stakes 2012 for Faustus who drew nicely in barrier three.
“It is a bit of a juggling act to see what track conditions are served up before we make the final decision but we will be likely to go to Warwick Farm on Saturday,” O’Seah’s racing manager Bryce Heys said.
“With inclement weather forecast, which is not positive, we are leading towards Warwick Farm with Faustus.”
Faustus is heading towards a start in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds, the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on Easter Saturday, April 7.
In the latest 2012 Golden Slipper odds at the country’s leading online bookie bookmaker.com.au, Faustus is rated a $17 chance.
A capacity number of acceptances were taken by the Canberra Racing Club for the Black Opal this year with 14 starters plus five emergencies all paid up for the event running as Race 6 at 4:10pm in the nation’s capital on Sunday afternoon.
Along with Faustus there are three other unbeaten Sydneysiders engaged in the race with the Peter Snowden-trained Commands colt Epaulette (barrier seven), Gerald Ryan’s dual winning filly Cavalry Rose (barrier 11) and the Gai Waterhouse-trained filly Later Gator (barrier two).
As expected there is a strong presence of interstate hopes in the Black Opal Stakes field with other notable visitors including the Anthony Cummings-trained Casino Prince filly Diamond Player who has suffered an early blow with barrier 18 (into 13 with emergencies out) and the Gerald Ryan-trained My Shabella also wide in 15.
Two notable defectors from nomination stage to acceptances that will not be making a Black Opal Stakes appearance are the David Hayes-trained Chairman’s Stakes winner Mama’s Choice and Anthony Freedman’s Blue Diamond Stakes third placegetter Armed For Action.
Leading the local Canberra contingent is then Neville Layt’s Red Excitement, out to go one better than their famous stablemate Karuta Queen who went down in a shock defeat to You’re Canny in the Black Opal 12 months ago.
Excites colt Red Excitement is also out to secure the same Lightning Ridge 2YO Plate – Black Opal Stakes double as You’re Canny.
See below for the complete 2012 Kamberra Wine Company Black Opal Stakes final field and barrier draw.
2012 Black Opal Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Canberra Race 6 – 4:10pm – 11/03/2012
|1||1X||FAUSTUS||John O’Shea||Jim Cassidy||3||56kg|
|2||1X||EPAULETTE||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||7||56kg|
|3||24X55||RISE TO THE TOP||Gary Portelli||Nash Rawiller||5||56kg|
|4||66X31||RED EXCITEMENT||Neville Layt||Kevin Sweeney||10||56kg|
|5||16||NO RISQUE||Barbara Joseph & Paul Jones||Jeff Penza||6||56kg|
|7||244||FLAMING STAR||Chicka Pearson||William Pearson||1||56kg|
|8||06X22||TONY THE PONY||Neil Osborne||Mathew Cahill||4||56kg|
|9||11||CAVALRY ROSE||Gerald Ryan||Corey Brown||11||55.5kg|
|10||1||LATER GATOR (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||2||54kg|
|11||8877X2||DIAMOND PLAYER||Anthony Cummings||Blake Shinn||18||54kg|
|12||318||LURA||Tony Sergi||Michael Travers||16||54kg|
|13||15||BEAUTIFUL DANI||Mick Miladinovic||Richard Bensley||19||54kg|
|14||29||DON’T CROSS MARY||Peter Wiggins||Taylor Lovelock-Wiggins (a)||14||54kg|
|15e||3||MY SHABELLA||Gerald Ryan||Josh Adams (a)||15||54kg|
|16e||70X||TROPHIES||John P Thompson||–||12||56kg|
|17e||3||CROWN MOSS||Marc Conners||–||8||54kg|
|19e||7||LIGHTNING DREW||Tim Martin||Jay Ford||13||56kg|