Black Opal Stakes Day Set To Be Bigger Than Ever

By Simon Dinopoulous - Racing and Sports

The decision by the Canberra Racing Club's committee to amalgamate their two feature racedays into one premium showcase proved a resounding success last year and this year's edition appears well on track to go one step further.

While they proved successful in providing their most competitive racing fixture of the season, the race club will now look to provide greater on-course entertainment with Canberra Race Club Chief Executive, Peter Stubbs, emphasising the importance of providing and all-round package.

"In this day and age race clubs can't just rely on the level of racing, we would like to think that everyone comes along to enjoy the races but you've also got to have other activities to attract a broader scale of patrons to your respective race meetings," Stubbs said.

"It can also prove to have flow on benefits for the racing industry as the general public may come a long to participate in the other activities and discover they do in fact enjoy racing which can lead to them becoming regular racegoers or in fact maybe attracted into ownership of a racehorse."

The decision to move the Canberra Cup from its usual date in November to March to coincide with the Black Opal Stakes proved a complete success however Canberra Race Club Chairman Dr. Chris Ward admitted there was some apprehension leading up to the event.

"It's fair to say that the committee was a fair bit nervous about the outcome when they made the decision to amalgamate the two race days into one, but we were more than pleased with the result and we are all systems a go for the future," Ward said.

Downgraded to Listed level from Group 3 status in 2006, the Black Opal Stakes appears on the verge of being reinstated to its former status following the strong performances of its most recent victor, the Darley trained Epaulette, much to the approval of Peter Stubbs.

"The result with Epaulette winning the Golden Rose and then going on to finish third in the Caulfield Guineas it certainly boosted the ratings for the Black Opal Stakes for this year and put it well above Group 3 level, so if we can get a similar result this year it will give us a major opportunity to get the race upgraded back to Group 3 level," Stubbs said.

"That's our main objective in the next few years so that the Nation's Capital and the Canberra Racing Club have at least one Group race on the program or at least one Group race a year."

Coinciding with the Canberra Centenary, Stubbs was also pleased to announce that ACTTAB has come on board to sponsor this year's edition of the staying feature.

"This year of course is the Canberra Centenary and it's great that ACTTAB have come on board to sponsor the Canberra Cup which will be recognised as the ACTAB Canberra Centenary Cup,"

While locally trained gallopers have proved very successful in recent years having claimed the last three Canberra Cups, Stubbs believes the local staying ranks aren't as strong this time around.

"I'm not sure we have the quality of stayers around this year that we have had in the past, Coliseo won a trial in good fashion at the last race meeting but would need to get a few runs under his belt if he is to contend this year," Stubbs said.