R7: Black Opal Stakes – 1200m 2YO Open G3 SW $275,000

The Track

The track is currently a Soft 6 (Friday) with hot weather forecast through to Saturday. There is however an 85% chance of rain on Friday afternoon (up to 5mm) so the track condition will largely depend on how much rain arrives.

By the time the Black Opal comes around the track is likely to be somewhere between a Good 4 and Soft 5. The rail is out 3mm which historically has provided an even and fair racing surface.

Speed and Tactics

There’s no shortage of early speed in this year’s race. Super Too (3) is speedy and up from 1000m to 1200m, Echappe (1) will attempt to hold a forward position, while Dieters (8) is also a natural front runner.

There is then a number of horses drawn wide such as Fox Tales (9), Prized Icon (10) and Flash Fibian (13) that have some early speed and it’s likely that at least 1 or 2 of them will have to press forward, otherwise risk being trapped wide.

If he jumps well then Blake Shinn on Defcon (11) could also elect to ride positively.

This race looks set up to be a solid test of 1200m won in decent overall time.

Early Pace Rating: Good to Solid

Late Pace Rating: Below Average to Moderate

Best Suited: 2 to 5 lengths off the lead.

Race Overview

Below are the ratings that recent Black Opal winners have run to:

  • 2015 – Takedown – 96.0
  • 2014 – Lucky Racquie – 94.5
  • 2013 – Criterion – 96.7
  • 2012 – Epaulette – 95.0
  • 2011 – You’re Canny – 94.2
  • 2010 – Decision Time – 95.0

The average winner’s rating over the last 6 years has been 95.2. Defcon is the only runner in this year’s field with a lead up performance close to that mark, coming off a last start 95.3 rating.

Runner by Runner Analysis

1. Dieters (8) $6 MKT: $8.50

He’s won 2 from 2 so far in QLD, the latest back on 19th December over 1110m. The big query I have over that form line is that he had a relative soft time up on the pace and was then walking to the line over the last 200m in very slow figures. That 1110m win looks to lack substance and he comes into this race off a 78 day break over what looks a genuine to solid run 1200m. They’re big red flags for me, so I’m happy to oppose him.

2. Defcon (11) $1.55 MKT: $1.50

He’s the clear quality in this race courtesy of some rock solid Sydney form & ratings… the latest a 95.3 figure when 2nd to Astern over 1100m at Rosehill. He’s the only runner with form on par with the historical winning standard of this race and has just as much scope to improve as anything. The draw is a little awkward but with good early speed there’s every chance a position will open up for Blake Shinn to slot in. That aside, you’ll do far better in the long-term backing the dominant talent in a race compared to being put off by barrier draws. The fact he’s trained by the Snowden’s doesn’t hurt either. They’ve only taken 2 horses to the race in the last 10 editions, Epaulette who won and Sidestep who was a close 2nd to Criterion with a big space to the rest. At $1.80 the betting market is suggesting he’ll only win this race 55% of the time and his winning chance looks significantly better than that. I’ve assessed him as a 64.5% winning chance and that gap presents an excellent betting prospect with a high chance of collecting.

3. Prized Icon (100 $5.50 MKT: $4.60

He bring solid Sydney form to this race behind the likes of Telperion and Scarlett Rain, well established in the 91-92 rating range. He looks well suited up to a genuinely run 1200m and is clearly the next best chance in the race.

4. Motime (5) $501 MKT: $81

He’s well exposed after 3 career starts and looks significantly outclassed.

5. Fox Tales $67 MKT: $26

Two runs over 1000m so far have only rated around the 83.5 level and he doesn’t give the impression 1200m will bring any improvement. Hard to like.

6. Calabasas (2) $41 MKT: $41

Comes off an 86.5 rating 1350m Maiden win at Newcastle (Beaumont) last start which certainly isn’t the worst form in the race. Back to 1200m doesn’t look all that suitable, but genuine pace up front should help.

7. Flash Fibian (13) $51 MKT: $41

He had excuses last start over 1000m behind Super Too when caught wide in the run and then cornering even wider. Despite that he still finished off well. This race is a different standard though and he is drawn very awkwardly.

8. Hutcho (12) $41 MKT: $26

Debuted in a Saturday class race at Randwick over 1200m on 26th December 2015, was slow to jump, settled last in the 11 horse field and just worked home evenly. It’s hard to read too much into that run and he did trial quite well on 19th Feb at Randwick, winning with decent speed measures, although urged along. He’s a difficult horse to assess, but still deserves to be a longshot.

9. Balonne (4) $501 MKT: $151

Well beaten in two lead up races much easier than this. He’s massively outclassed

10. Super Too (3) $34 MKT: $16

He’s a speedy type who won well on debut over 1000m at Canberra in a solid 86.6 rating. He doesn’t give the impression that he can be better at 1200m though and tackling this race at 2nd career start has historically been very difficult. In the last 10 years, 27 have tried and only Epaulette was able to win, but he came off a strong 1200m win in Sydney Saturday class and of course went on to win the G1 Golden Rose as a 3YO. Plenty of others with stronger lead up credentials than Super Too have tried to win this race at their 2nd start and been well beaten. That concern combined with the fact that his debut win was well short of the winning mark for this race puts him well and truly into the longshot category.

11. Echappe (1) $251 MKT: $101

Won at Bathurst last start with an 81.6 rating, which is a long way short of the standard needed to be competitive here.

12. No When To Hold Em (7) $351 MKT: $101

In 5 starts so far he’s reached a peak rating of 86 and has more recent form around the 82.5 level. That’s nowhere near good enough and prospects of improvement seem minimal.

13. Miss Dominance (6) $34 MKT: $18

Comes off a last start 84 rating when 3rd at Moonee Valley over 1000m and definitely looks better suited up to 1200m. She should run a new career peak here, but the gap to get into the winning picture looks too large.

Betting Strategy

There’s really only one horse to back here and that’s DEFCON.

 BACK – WIN – Defcon $1.60 or better

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