What: Black Opal Stakes
When: Sunday, March 10. Gates open at 11.30am.
Tickets: Online or for sale at the gate
BLACK Opal roughie Torio Magic won’t be receiving a lot of love from the bookies in the lead-up to this Sunday’s marquee $250,000 race, a fact entirely unlikely to faze Queanbeyan trainer Neville Layt.
Layt was the last Queanbeyan trainer to win the Opal in 2008 with 50-1 outside Sarthamare before going on to watch his then-stable star and overwhelming favourite Karuta Queen suffer a shock defeat in 2011.
With the experience of those highs and lows behind him, it is hardly surprising Layt said he was largely untroubled by the reputations of some of this year’s leading Open contenders.
“There’s a few city trainers who've got runners coming down but you've got to meet them somewhere and if they’re coming down for the Opal, so be it,” he said.
“Torio Magic has improved leaps and bounds since his last run so I expect him to be very competitive and I don’t care what they bring down from Sydney.
“The 1200m will suit him down to the ground so with a bit of luck he’ll box up midfield and go from there.”
Torio Magic’s last run saw the two-year-old finish fourth in the Canberra’s Lightning Ridge Black Opal preview.
And the Oratorio colt will be up against it to improve on that run in Sunday’s Opal with leading trainers Gai Waterhouse (Mr Jackman) and Peter Snowden (Sidestep) both accepting.
Layt will also have a runner in Sunday’s Canberra Cup in Sialia Magic but conceded the four-year-old was an outside-chance at best of troubling the frontrunners.
Fellow Queanbeyan trainer Mick Smith will also contest the $200,000 Listed race with three-time winner Dubai Ruler.