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Waterhouse & Bott hoping for more success in Canberra features

Nominations for John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes Day closed on Monday morning, with 157 nominations received across the ten-race program.

It is the first time that over $1m in prizemoney will be competed for on one day in Canberra and the occasion has attracted entrants from many of the leading metropolitan stables with Neasham, the Snowden’s, O’Shea, Waterhouse & Bott, Waller, Pride, Smith, Ryan & Alexiou, the Freedman’s and the Hawkes all represented. 

The Group 3 Black Opal Stakes has received 21 nominations with Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott’s Fully Lit and Peter & Paul Snowden’s $850,000 colt Holmes A Court two of the highlights. 

Co-Trainer Adrian Bott is confident Fully Lit’s campaign is right on track for a tilt at the Black Opal Stakes and then Golden Slipper.

“He’s come through his last win in the Millenium beautifully and he’s trialled nicely since.” Bott said. 

“He’s in great order, and obviously has plenty of upside. He’s improving every start.”

Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott’s elite two-year-old stock has been well publicised with the Randwick-based partnership having five of the top six in TAB’s Golden Slipper future’s market, including Fully Lit (currently a $15 chance).

“I’d like to see him perform well in the Black Opal to see where he is at. It’s always a competitive contest so this will give us a great guide.” 

While the nominations for Canberra’ premier race include an impressive list of Sydney & Melbourne juveniles, the locals certainly aren’t without hope. 

Gratz Vella, who trained the winner of the Black Opal Stakes in 2011 with You’re Canny, has unearthed another nice two-year-old in Vella’s Best.

An impressive winner of the Black Opal Preview on debut, Vella’s Best is exempt from the ballot and will take improvement from his debut effort.

Keith Dryden’s Shezain was third behind Vella’s Best that day. She had a torrid run that day when caught three-wide facing the breeze but was good enough to run into the minors.

With a more forgiving run, she certainly can be an improver. 

Another 21 quality thoroughbreds remain in contention for the Listed TAB Canberra Cup (2000m), including last start Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott’s Group 2 winner Military Mission as well as stablemates Entente, So United and Notabadbuy.

While Bott says Military Mission’s appearance will be depend on how the race is weighted, their team is likely to include Group 3 winner Entente and $1m Magic Millions Subzero (2200m) winner So United.

“We thought So United was great last start” Bott said of his galloper’s efforts when beaten less than a length in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m). 

“Before that he was really impressive when he won at the Gold Coast. He’s progressive and continues to improve.”

The Waterhouse & Bott yard have 13 nominations across the 10 races and have enjoyed tremendous success in recent Canberra features, having won the 2023 Black Opal Stakes with Autumn Ballet and the 2022 Canberra Cup with Sacramento

Find all nominations for 2024 John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes Day here.  

Photo Credit: Bradley Photos