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Pepper readies unbeaten Opal for 'first grade'

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Trainer Luke Pepper believes the timing is right to test unbeaten filly Opal Ridge in ‘first grade’ at Rosehill on Saturd

Trainer : LUKE PEPPER.
Trainer : LUKE PEPPER. Picture: Racing and Sports

With two wins from as many starts, at Canberra in January and Scone earlier this month, Opal Ridge makes her city debut in the Precise Air Handicap (1100m) and Pepper concedes the composition of the field makes it difficult to line her up.

"It's the last two-year-old race of the season so I think everybody had it earmarked and we're in it with a filly we really like,'' he said.

"She was really good the other day and we're looking forward to seeing her run on Saturday even though we're stepping into first grade.

"We'll figure out where she's at from that."

The day after Opal Ridge's debut win at Canberra it was discovered she had suffered a hairline fracture to her tibia bone which required a decent break.

Pepper, who relocated from Canberra to Scone at the start of the month, threw her in the deep end when she returned six months later and she overcame a wide run on the speed to beat older horses over 1100m at Scone on July 15.

"We've always had a good opinion of her but it's good to just have her back at the races after an injury,'' he said.

"It's never easy for two-year-old to come out in that grade and win so she did a good job. We're getting into a bit better grade now but we're looking forward to it."

Opal Ridge, $8.50 with TAB on Thursday, has drawn the inside alley and Pepper expects jockey Kerrin McEvoy to have a few options from there.

"She usually jumps well, I'd imagine she will be in the first six,'' he said.

"She could possibly lead but I'd imagine she will be just behind them waiting for her turn to get a run."

Stablemate Rebel Dreamer returns to Rosehill for a second shot at a TAB Highway (1200m) after she finished third behind So Country in a similar event two weeks ago when favourite.

The three-year-old's chances are a little easier for Pepper to assess given Iconic Dame, who beat his filly first-up back in June, has been a subsequent Highway winner.

Plus, Rebel Dreamer will renew rivalries with the quinella from her last start.

He said a 1300m Class 3 Highway in two weeks would be ideal for Rebel Dreamer but expects the experience on a heavy track two weeks ago to be of assistance.

"She's probably looking for a bit further so we've kept her nice and fresh,'' he said.

"I think she would like the track a bit firmer but with that experience the other day she will be better for it.

"The favourite was the horse that beat us first-up at the Sapphire Coast (Iconic Dame) so she's thereabouts and with a bit of luck and improvement hopefully she runs well."

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