There aren’t too many trainers who would go into a Group 1 content with boxes five and seven, but that is exactly how Pearcedale trainer Seona Thompson is feeling ahead of the TAB Australian Cup.
Group 1 Melbourne Cup (515m) runner up Black Opium and Group 1 Rookie Rebel (600m) winner Deliver are Thompson’s two chances, with both sitting at $7 with TAB in Saturday night’s Australian Cup at The Meadows.
Black Opium is one of the hottest young greyhounds in Australia having had just 15 starts for 11 wins.
“Black Opium is the whole package,” trainer Seona Thompson said.
“She is coming into an Australian Cup final after already finishing second in the Melbourne Cup which is mind blowing for all of us involved.”
Although Black Opium was the third slowest qualifier for the Australian Cup in the heats last weekend, Thompson believes that her heat time doesn’t mean anything.
“She went around in race one when it was very windy. Like all tracks, it got quicker as the night went on.”
“I know the times she is capable of running and she definitely has what it takes to win an Australian Cup,” Thompson said.
Thompson has a soft spot for Black Opium, having trained her mother Captivating, as well as owned and trained her father Black Magic Opal.
Deliver is the in-form greyhound in the Australian Cup field, on a winning streak of four which includes a victory in the Group 1 Rookie Rebel (600m) in week one of the Australian Cup Carnival at The Meadows on 16 February.
In the past, successful 600 metre form has equated to Group 1 success in sprint finals. David Geall credits My Redeemer’s Melbourne Cup victory to a stint over the middle distance, while Fanta Bale did exactly what Deliver is aiming to do; claim the Rookie Rebel and Australian Cup in a three-week period.
“The runs over 600 metres is as much a fitness thing as it is a confidence thing. I don’t think there is a dog racing at the moment with more confidence than Deliver,” Thompson said.
“His preparation has been perfect, he does everything right. I think a lot of people forget that he has run 5.02 seconds at The Meadows early, so he does have the early pace.”
Deliver is unbeaten from box five throughout his 25-start career, which has included two Group 1 wins from his 14 victories.