Champion Queensland trainer Tony Brett will be looking to win his second Group 1 Australian Cup after Opal Nera’s impressive go-to-whoa victory in the second of last week’s heats over 525 metres.
The son of Dyna Tron and Black Sambuca continued his love affair with The Meadows, recording splits of 5.12 and 17.70 on his way to a six-length, 30.04 win. The victory meant the black chaser qualified for his second Group 1 final at The Meadows after making his way into last year’s Maturity Classic. Trainer Tony Brett – who won the 2004 version of the Australian Cup with Hall of Famer Bogie Leigh – says that he hasn’t quite worked out why Opal Nera races so well at the Broadmeadows circuit.
“He seems to really enjoy racing at The Meadows. If you watch the dog closely he probably has the worst running action of any dog I’ve put a lead on. His head is turned inwards and his bum goes outwards and his legs seem be going in all directions. But for some reason – and I can’t put my finger on it – his action seems to be a lot better when he is racing around The Meadows. From the minute I got him I thought there would be heaps of upside because he was galloping like a pup, but he hasn’t changed his ways. He is still the fastest dog I’ve slipped at Ipswich at his first attempt, and it’s great to make the second Group 1 final of his career,” said Brett, who is satisfied with the his chaser’s draw of six.
“My ideal box for Opal Nera would be something out wide, and the first two trainers to pick their draws ended up with boxes seven and eight, so I was a little worried where we would end up. Drawing box six was probably the next best thing as he does like to use a bit of the track as he showed in his heat win.”
And his thoughts of some of his rivals?
“It looked to me that there weren’t too many trainers happy with their draw in the final. I think John McCarthy (trainer of Slick) wanted to draw out wide as a preference. Slick’s runs have been enormous at The Meadows but he seems to have lost a little of his early pace at the track. Hecton Bale was really impressive in his heat win but he may need some luck to get across from box eight. I think Raw Ability is the main danger because he can rattle off some fast splits and a great overall time. My dog relies on recording fast splits because he’s not a strong run-home dog so he will need to jump to the front or find the lead pretty early to be a genuine chance. The upside is he still missed the kick a bit in his heat, so it will be my job to try and get him pinging out come Saturday night.”
2018 Australian Cup (525m)
Saturday 3 March – First prize $250,000
1 – SLICK, John McCarthy (Wivenhoe Pocket, QLD)
2 – DYNA FORREST, Correy Grenfell (Avalon, VIC)
3 – CHASIN’ CRACKERS, Glenn Rounds (Devon Meadows, VIC)
4 – RAW ABILITY, Anthony Azzopardi (Myrniong, VIC)
5 – ZIPPING INGLIS, Matthew Lanigan (Swan Hill, VIC)
6 – OPAL NERA, Tony Brett (Grandchester, QLD)
7 – HASTEN SLOWLY, Angela Langton (Anakie, VIC)
8 – HECTON BALE, Andrea Dailly (Anakie, VIC)
9 – EXTREME MAGIC, Seona Thompson (Pearcedale, VIC)
10 – DYNA CHANCER, Correy Grenfell (Avalon, VIC)