Tuesday, 6 March 2012
: Queanbeyan trainer Neville Layt is confident his colt Red Excitement can stave off a powerful band of Sydney nominations for this year's $250,000 Black Opal Stakes to keep the trophy in local hands for a second straight year.
| Neville Layt|
Photo by Bronwen Healy
two-year-old is out to emulate last year's winner You're Canny
, trained in Canberra by Gratz Vella, who like Red Excitement
won the Lightning Ridge 2YO Plate (1000m) before going on to cause a massive boilover in the Opal.
Incidentally that came at the expense of Layt's raging-hot favourite Karuta Queen
, whose presence in the race prompted several Sydney trainers to not even bother running in Canberra.
But Sunday's race is likely to boast a full capacity crack field, potentially including unbeaten Sydney quartet Cavalry Rose
, Later Gator
Highly rated Victorian duo Mama's Choice
and Armed For Action
have also nominated.
Layt however wasn't concerned by the strength of the visiting brigade, and rated his horse a genuine winning chance.
“I heard about them [the nominations], we're going to meet them, it's a strong race,” Layt said.
“In saying that, I know that my little horse is right up there with them. The 1200m will even suit him better.
“They're all good horses but the better class horses are still at home aren't they.
“What I'm getting at is I just think he's up there with the best of the horses [coming down for the Opal]. He's just starting to come to the fore now.”
The Gerald Ryan-trained Cavalry Rose has already won almost $200,000 in prizemoney, most of which came when saluting on debut in the Inglis Classic.Later Gator
represents the unflappable Gai Waterhouse yard, and is one of 11 two-year-old winners out of Tulloch Lodge this season.
Meanwhile John O'Shea's Faustus and Peter Snowden's Epaulette both won their only race starts last year, and will resume this weekend.
Layt's been closely monitoring the Waterhouse yard since the Breeder's Plate in October, when Red Excitement
ran a four-length sixth to subsequent Silver Slipper winner Pierro
“You take a line through Pierro, he beat him four lengths in his first start on the race and he was never on the track,” Layt said.
“Pierro's come out and bolted in the other day and he [Red Excitement] come out and did the same thing.”
Layt is shooting for his second Black Opal success – he won the race with 100-1 outsider Sarthemare
in 2008 before Karuta Queen's second placing last year.
Should Red Excitement perform on Sunday, Layt said his colt would be given every chance to get to the Golden Slipper.
“If he runs well on Sunday he'll run in the Todman Slipper Trial then he'll run in the Slipper,” Layt said.
“And then we go up again.”