Sunday at the Sunshine Coast sees the postponed...
The Black Opal Stakes 2018 steals the show in Canberra on Sunday with a line-up of potential Golden Slipper two-year-olds facing off in the Group 3 clash.
It is a bit of a tricky race to do the early form on with a number of the juveniles engaged in the current capacity field for the Group 3 $300,000 Black Opal Stakes (1200m) also accepted for Randwick’s Group 2 $200,000 Todman Stakes (1200m) the day before in Sydney.
Both sprint showdowns are key lead-ups to the iconic Group 1 $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) and the winning horse in each are likely to face off in that March 24 classic.
Confirmed for the Black Opal Stakes field after scratching out from the Todman Stakes on Randwick Guineas Day are the Godolphin-raced Encryption and Peter & Paul Snowden’s improver Bondi.
Bondi currently sits top of the Black Opal Stakes odds to break his maiden status at career start number four, the Snitzel colt at $4.50 with Blake Shinn continuing his association.
Runner-up to Performer at Randwick on debut last September in the Listed Breeders Plate (1000m), Bondi returned with a third in Wyong’s Magic Millions Classic before running five lengths back fifth to Sunlight in the $2 million Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) in mid-January.
Sunlight franked that form winning the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) on February 24 to retain her spot as co-favourite in futures Golden Slipper odds, while Bondi geared up for his return with a winning Randwick trial over Performer on February 27.
He returns off the eight week break and will be up on the speed presenting as a genuine winning hope for the punters looking to firm in his current Golden Slipper 2018 quote of $26.
Encryption, a $51 Golden Slipper roughie, is considered the danger occupying the second line of Black Opal Stakes betting at $4.80 and firming.
Hugh Bowman is booked to ride the James Cummings-trained Lonhro colt for the first time, the bay also looking for his breakthrough career win.
He is a three-time placegetter from four starts to date, all in Melbourne, so must now prove he can handle the opposite way of racing in his NSW debut on Sunday.
His form has been outstanding and around some very good two-year-olds however including the last start fifth in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m), his first run out of the money.
Sunday’s race shapes-up as an easier assignment and Encryption could take some beating from the gate after doing it tough out in 12 for the Group 1 last month.
It is a typically wide open edition of the Black Opal Stakes this autumn with a further five hopefuls under $10 for the win including the widely-drawn Blue Diamond fourth placegetter Prairie Fire ($6) for Mick Price who has the outside gate to overcome.
The other standout two-year-old according to the bookies are the rails-drawn local Nick Olive-trained filly Sizzling Belle ($9) chasing a fourth win from as many career starts including her lead-up at the track on February 23, Lindsay Park’s black-type winning filly Qafila ($9.50) and the Gerald Ryan-trained Skyline Stakes third placegetter from last Saturday Legend Of Condor ($9.50) who is still officially engaged in the Todman Stakes.
Check out the full Black Opal Stakes 2018 field and betting odds courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au below who also have the top Golden Slipper markets open for the end-of-month classic in Sydney.
2018 Black Opal Stakes Field & Odds
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