The once in a century closure of the Victoria/NSW border means Jason and Jessica Sharp will be watching from Avalon as they chase their first Group 1 victory in Saturday night’s Peter Mosman Opal (520m) in Sydney.
The Sharps’ 18-year-old son Liam will be deputising for his parents at Wentworth Park with well-fancied Junk Food Junkie, a $4.40 chance with TAB in a wide-open female feature.
“Liam travelled up to Sydney on Tuesday,” Jason Sharp said.
“Liam always puts his hand up to handle in the Group races and he’s got a good head on his shoulders. It would be fantastic if she could win and I’m sure Liam would remember it for the rest of his life.
“It’s a surreal situation but you can’t change it so we’ve just got on with it and organised everything. We might have felt a bit differently 12 months ago when we were struggling for money and counting every cent.
“Jess and I don’t go to the track as much as we used to and I’m a pretty loud barracker so I can probably get more carried away at home where we’ll be watching with our other children Dylan and Mia!”
The Sharps boast a Melbourne Cup placing with Healesville Cup winner Kouta Mayhem in 2017, while earlier this year Red Rochelle was a Super Stayers finalist and now Junk Food Junkie represents a great chance for a Group 1 breakthrough.
A daughter of Fernando Bale, which won the Peter Mosman in 2015 before it was restricted to bitches, Junk Food Junkie was edged out in her heat last weekend, beaten only three-quarters of a length in a fast 29.77s by local Fire On Ice.
Junk Food Junkie’s litter sister Devel Sixteen finished an unlucky third in her heat but missed a berth in the final.
“I thought it was a great hit-out for Junk Food Junkie,” Sharp offered.
“She was at Wentworth Park back in January but she’d only had a handful of starts then so I’m treating last week as virtually her first run there and I think she’ll be better for the run.
“I expect her to be better out of the boxes this week too. She’s run 5.02s at The Meadows and gets under 5.10s at both city tracks.”
Junk Food Junkie, which will exit box three, has been largely overshadowed by the local contenders in pre-race discussions, with Nangar Silk ($3.30), Lilly Banner ($3.40) and Fire On Ice ($3.60) all vying for favouritism.
However, Sharp is happy to be flying under the radar and is bullish about her prospects.
“It’s a winnable race but she needs luck and she needs to jump,” he said.
“There’s not a lot of speed around her and she’s strong so if she gets onto the fence she’ll be hard to catch. She just needs a bit of luck in the first 50 metres.
“I don’t mind that they’re not spruiking her and I really give her a good chance.
“I know a lot of the other finalists have picket fences in their form but I don’t think they’ve been racing against the calibre of dogs she has. She’s been racing against Black Opium!”
The Peter Mosman Opal is race 6 at Saturday night’s Wentworth Park meeting, to jump at 7.48pm.