QUEANBEYAN trainer Joe Cleary is suddenly eyeing next year’s $250,000 Black Opal with renewed interest after Quietly Brilliant announced himself in emphatic fashion last Friday.
The two-year-old’s seven-length victory over 1000m at Canberra in a class record run of 58.2s has already set the gelding on a short cut to the $100,000 Golden Gift (1100m) at Rosehill on December 21.
Leading from start to finish, Quietly Brilliant was largely untroubled in his track debut at Canberra save for a brief challenge on the home turn from second place finisher Battle Of Evermore.
“There hasn’t really been a flag bearer in the stable since I got the ball rolling again three years ago,” Cleary said of the son of Alert. “I’ve had some nice horses since then but nothing outstanding.
“Hopefully he might be the one to get back in the winner’s circle up in Sydney.
“I’ve always had a good opinion of him. He won his track gallops, won his barrier trial and won it well and the rest is history. He just found the rail [on Friday] and away he went.”
And despite having just one run to his name, Cleary said he had no hesitation in nominating the young galloper for the Gift.
“I really want to throw him in the deep end before he goes for a spell and I know for a fact that’ll tell me where he’s going,” he said.
“There’s obviously going to be a lot of good horses in that race so how he goes will be a good reference for where we can go with him next.
“He’ll benefit from that run on Friday and a day on the track and at the races will do him good so I won’t hesitate at all [in taking him to Sydney].”
Regardless of the result, Quietly Brilliant’s run at Rosehill will be his last before being put back in the paddock for three weeks with Cleary already targeting the Opal next March.
“I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch but he’s done everything right so far,” Cleary said. “If he keeps it up, the next step is the Black Opal which is the main race I’d like to win with him.”
Cleary’s father Frank has twice won the Opal with Clan O’Sullivan in 1992 and Catbird in 1999.