Black Opium’s chances of snaring an elusive Group 1 appeared to skyrocket when she drew Box 1 in tonight’s $214,500 TAB Topgun (525m) at The Meadows, to be run at 9.33pm.
However, that isn’t necessarily the case, as she has had the ‘cherry’ on six occasions four two wins and four unplaced runs.
“If you look at her record it’s not her most favourite draw,” trainer Jason Thompson told Simone Fisher.
What gives the Pearcedale trainer some encouragement, however, is that one of her two Box 1 victories was in elite company at The Meadows, when she took out a heat of the Australian Cup.
That night she led all the way, clocking 5.05sec to the first section, and she’ll need to show similar early zip to have any chance against tonight’s hand-picked field.
“Hopefully she can begin well and make full use of Box 1. She is certainly in form and capable of running quick early,” Thompson said.
“It’s crucial for her to begin (well) and she probably needs room in the first 20 metres. If she is able to get that, she can definitely find the front, and I think that whoever does lead around the first corner will be winning the race.”
Black Opium has contested five Group 1 finals, finishing runner-up in the Melbourne Cup, Australian Cup and Brisbane Cup.
“I think that whoever does lead around the first corner will be winning the race” – Jason Thompson.
Thompson is buoyed by his star’s performance two starts ago when she won by five lengths in a semi-final of the Million Dollar Chase at Wentworth Park in a slick 29.46sec.
“All the good dogs were there that night. She ran the quickest first and second split and got nabbed by 1/100th of a second on the fastest overall time,” he said.
Black Opium, the only female greyhound in the Topgun, hasn’t raced since finishing at the tail of the field in the Million Dollar Chase final three weeks ago.
“It certainly isn’t going to pose an issue that she hasn’t raced for three weeks as she has done plenty of racing in the past 12 months,” Thompson said.
“Since the Million Dollar Chase she has had three trials and they’ve all been really good. Hopefully it might help that she’s going in reasonably race fresh. She is certainly fit and has had the trials that she needed to have.”
Black Opium, a winner of 19 races from 37 starts and $423,353 in prize money, is the second favourite at $4.40 behind Sennachie at $3.80.
Photo: Black Opium in one of her two Box 1 victories.
WATCH: Black Opium wins a heat of the Australian Cup from Box 1.