A National Championship, Sprint or Distance, is one of the very few remaining gaps on champion Victorian trainer Jason Thompson’s illustrious resume.
And Thompson’s superstar sprinter Black Opium hasn’t yet been able to land a Group 1 trophy, having frustratingly finished runner-up on three occasions, in the Melbourne Cup, Australian Cup and Brisbane Cup.
Both those anomalies could be corrected at Cannington in Western Australia in Saturday night’s Crocmedia National Sprint Championship (520m), where Black Opium, brilliant winner of the Victorian qualifying series at The Meadows is TAB’s $2.40 favourite.
“Black Opium deserves to win a Group 1; whether it’s on Saturday night or potentially somewhere else down the track,” Thompson said.
“Her three Group 1 seconds have been full of merit.
“Look at the dogs that have beaten her – My Redeemer, Dyna Patty and Sennachie – and they’ve all had to lead to beat her.
“The last three years we’ve had finalists in the National Sprint; Aston Dee Bee and Bewildering in 2017 and Big Flood last year. We also had Burn One Down in the Distance Final two years ago and he ran second to Fanta Bale.
“So we’ve been thereabouts but haven’t been able to win one yet.”
Black Opium was perfectly drawn in box eight in both heat and final of the Victorian National Sprint series at The Meadows, where she led all-the-way in 29.71s and 30.00s respectively, improving her record to 17 wins from 30 starts.
The daughter of Thompson’s 2013 Melbourne Cup hero Black Magic Opal will have to contend with box four in the $75,000 to-the-winner Sprint Grand Final and she wasn’t overly impressive when trialling at Cannington earlier in the week.
“She’s got to begin,” Thompson said.
“Drawing four is better than one or two because she just hates the inside.
“If she’s going to win the race she needs to begin and that takes whatever else might happen out of the equation.
“Her trial was only average but that’s her on her own. I’m not concerned at all. She had a look at the track and pulled up well, so she did what she needed to do.
“It’s no good being Tarzan in a trial and Jane on race night!”
Thompson has healthy respect for New Zealander Dyna Dave ($9) and locals Premium Share ($4.60 second favourite), Campini ($5) and Starlight Yoyo ($11).
“I know the New Zealand dog trialled well at Cannington but he’s a good dog and he’s won a lot of races and he’s probably into the price now that he should have been and the three locals obviously know the track,” Thompson said.
“But it was only two weeks ago Black Opium blitzed them in the Victorian Final and she’s probably the best-credentialed dog in the race now that Orson Allen is out.
“Her record speaks for itself; the only thing she hasn’t done yet is win a Group 1.”