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Canberra Racing Preview – Friday 23 February 2024

3 minute read

One of the strongest lead-up meetings to the Black Opal we have seen. Plenty of deep races. The Rail is in the true position and the track should present Soft 5 or better.

Autumn Ballet was a strong winner of the 2023 John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes.
Autumn Ballet was a strong winner of the 2023 John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes. Picture: Bradley Photos

Race 1: 1300m Mdn

SPRITZY LASS (8) impressed when narrowly beaten here on debut behind Enter The Dragon. Belted home and this trip should be right up her alley. Keeps Penza and will take plenty of beating. TAYTAY BAY (2) was heavily bet and narrowly beaten here first-up and impressed.  Followed that with a 1.6L defeat at Wagga over this trip. Fitter again and will get every chance to break through. CLEVER COOKIE (6) gets two key gear additions and can improve third-up. The debut outing had plenty of merit and she was run off her feet by a $1.24 favourite following. Beasley's booking is positive. UP TO ME (3) comes out of the same race beaten 2.2L. Has been missing the kick and will get the opportunity to sit closer. STRAIGHT FIRE (4) trialled well but settled too far back at Nowra on debut. The longer sprint suits and Cahill is a key jockey switch. Quick improvement is likely.


Race 2: 1000m Mdn SW

SERIAL OFFENDER (10) debuted well-supported in a rich feature at Doomben and then resumed here with the narrowest of losses behind Enter The Dragon. She fought hard and Matt Dale will have her further improved. Races forward and can go one better. DESIROUS (8) resumes and is Sydney-trained. Was last seen in the Listed Inglis Nursery on debut when she led from a wide gate and folded up badly. They must have an opinion and she's tuned up with two trial outings. HELLINDA (3) led and missed a lip in a Kembla Grange Maiden and then flopped as favourite at Gosford. Wasn't ridden out with jockey Tommy Berry suspecting he may have an issue. Was vet-cleared and is on a 22-day return. He can ride the speed from the rail and on-song is sure to give a sight. No surprise to see one or more of the debutants race boldly. The betting moves must be monitored closely.


Race 3: 1400m Bm 65 3yo

MAN IN THE MIRROR (1) had been off the scene for 488 days and did a good job when beaten 1.6L at Wyong on resumption. He was outgraded at Rosehill the start after and will be better for that. Raced twice at Group level early doors and is well-placed in this contest at the mile. In a top Sydney barn (Neasham) and can return to the winner's circle. OCEAN DIVA (14) is a Maiden improver in a strong Sydney stable. He was better with good support at Newcastle and the extra metres will suit. Sits down in the weights and respect with the first-time blinkers applied. REET PETITE (8) is a promising local who's been narrowly beaten at her last two when mixing distances. Has a strong record at home and the 1600m suits. She's a chance. JACK OF ACES (9) was narrowly beaten 3 times before a plainer effort following a freshen up. Has weight relief and hits this at peak. He's a hope if he puts his best foot forward. VAGUER (3) resumes for Neasham and is a betting watch.


Race 4: 1400m Bm 65 - Canberra Guineas Preview

A good race. KONING (1) resumes for a sharp Sydney barn and was last seen in Melbourne in a Group 2 over 2040m. Missed a whisker at Kembla Grange over this distance at his only fresh outing and has prepared with two city trials. Will be naturally improved and a bold return is likely. MISS GHENT (2) is a local who has been heavily supported both starts this preparation. Got close at the Sapphire Coast in stronger over this distance and the filly will enjoy a soft run from the inside barrier. Fitter again and a winning chance. MERCURY ROSE (8) is in a leading Sydney stable and is up to this at best. Tipping quick improvement off the solid first-up outing and she looks in need of the extra metres. EVERIDO (3) is a lightly raced improver in Canberra's premier stable and no surprise if he's in the finish. DAS KAPITAL (5) is Mercury Rose's stablemate and is sure to build on the comfortable maiden win at Gosford. The extra distance will suit.


Race 5: 1200m Cl 1

Joe Pride-trained ICONIC TREASURE (2) was a long time coming to the races, but it was worth the wait for connections. Impressed narrowly beaten at Wyong on debut and followed with the tidy Maiden win at Nowra over this distance. He rides the speed and with the extra fitness and learning looks capable of taking the next step. KENYAN CHARM (10) is lightly raced and promising. Built on the debut win at Wagga with a lip defeat there starting at short odds both. Beasley will skip over and ride the speed and fitter the filly will take catching. GUNDY GUY (5) also has a good future. Placed on the Acton synthetic on debut backed off the map and then resumed 15 days ago at Wagga winning the Maiden as a hot favourite. He's sure to have come on but he is cruelled by an outside gate and will need plenty of luck. HURRICANE ABLOWING (8) has laid down a solid platform and Cahill goes on for Owen who stays with the above. Maps for a soft run and deserves consideration.


Race 6: 2000m Open - Canberra Cup Preview

Waterhouse-Bott-trained NOTABADBUY (5) showed decent pieces of form on Victoria and then resumed off a long break narrowly beaten at Gosford over a mile. Just missed after at Canterbury over 1900m spiking his figures. That stacks right up. Has weight relief and will be further improved. Is likely to get a soft lead and is the one they must beat. PIRAEUS (6) is also Sydney-trained. Has been nudged out his last two starts over a mile. Delivered his best figure last time at Randwick and is looking for the middle distance. Has weight relief and can fight out the finish. KIPTANUI (2) went back-to-back and has raced in town since Those efforts would see him in the finish. Is on a 9-day return and maps for a soft run. ATHENA'S LAD (3) has missed a whisker twice in country Opens and third-up will get every chance to run out the extra 300m. Heywood gets off to ride the above, but Cahill is an adept replacement.


Race 7: 1000m 2yo - Black Opal Preview

The Black Opal preview is a tricky affair. The betting will be instructive. AMAZING EAGLE (1) was backed off the map in a Randwick Open 2 on debut and found one too good. Resumes owning a sharp Randwick trial and will be more furnished. Draws for a soft run in a race where the likely better hopes have awkward barriers. SKY CAP (5) impressed at Newcastle on debut stalking the leader and just coming up short. More confidence had he drawn a reasonable gate but with luck in the run he profiles as a key winning chance. ENTER THE DRAGON (3) has an even wider alley but has the first-time blinkers applied and can burn across to the speed. Impressed when winning the Open 2 here heavily bet but will require a clever ride. MAGICAL MOMENTS (15) debuts and his Rosehill trials have impressed. Is likely to make the field and go well. Not sure what to make of BEER BARON (2). Would win at best but the jury is out after the plain first-up run in the rich Inglis Millennium. Keep very safe.


Race 8: 1200m Open – National Sprint Preview

DEMANDING MO (6) improved again beaten narrowly at Kembla Grange and then was too good for the 82 graders at Wagga as expected. Uses the rail and he sits down in the weights. The shorter sprint won't bother, and he can go back-to-back for Canberra's premier stable. TAP 'N' RUN (3) won this grade here and then found the 78 at Rosehill a stretch. Has an awkward gate but Cahill stays aboard and he's a chance to bounce. INVERTATIONAL (5) resumes and is a local capable of surprising. Has won fresh and the winkers are first-time applied. Has trialled-up here and is certainly good enough. DORAMI (7) will ride the speed from an inside barrier and has been busting to win at this level. Demanding Mo's stablemate FANGELA (2) won the Open here and then found a place in a 72 at Canterbury. Has been freshened and maps for a soft run. A chance as well.


Race 9: 1600m Bm 65

MISSILE LEADER (3) was quickly back to form winning at Wagga before placing in a Highway at Rosehill. Carries more weight but Owen is reunited and from a handy gate the local can bounce back. OVERICE (9) peaks off the lip defeat at Newcastle over this distance. The improver looks the map horse and is feared. DECIMUS (4) was back to his best winning the CL1 here first-up. That stacks right up but he has the outside barrier today and will need a good ride. KINGSTON CHARM (6) is Sydney-trained and did a good job at Wyong beaten 1L. Has a key gear switch and that may see her settle more forward. CYBORG (5) may need the sting out of the ground but impressed when narrowly beaten here in a 70. The local has a handy 2kg claim and hits this at top.

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