Trainer Nathan Doyle is looking forward to seeing what unbeaten colt Midnight Opal can do when he’s exposed to a stakes-level tempo in his biggest test at Randwick on Saturday.
The three-year-old, who cost Doyle $190,000 as a yearling, has been strategically handled in his two starts to date for a debut win at Scone and a Class 1 win at Kembla Grange.
Doyle said it’s more than worth having a shot at a race like the Listed $200,000 TAB Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) with a horse that is all upside.
“He’s a good horse and he’s doing it all on his first racing preparation,’’ Doyle said.
“He’s a beautiful horse. He’s athletic, he wasn’t overly big but he looked like he could run and he can do so.
“I’m sure he’s going to be better again next time in but they are only three once and to take on your own age is probably more beneficial than taking on a benchmark 72 against older horses.
“He’s been a little bit of a natural. I feel he is a horse that will be a lot more effective in better grade, he’s not a leader.
“I’m sure he can take that step to stakes level.”
In his debut win the son of Deep Field ran a 32.67 last 600m (Punter’s Intelligence) at the end of the 1100m at Scone, three lengths faster than his rivals, from the second half of the field.
Midnight Opal, $10 with TAB on Wednesday, was forced into a leading role for his second race start when up to 1200m and Doyle said it was a case of simply taking luck out of the equation.
“It was a tricky speed map the other day and we couldn’t find a leader on paper,’’ he said.
“When you’re a $1.40 shot what do you do, you just come out and make a good thing of him.
“He just floated around in front at Kembla, he was on and off the bridle, we had to ride him like the best horse I the race to get the job done.
“When we can ride him with cover like we did first-up he’ll be a better horse. He has a lot better turn of foot ridden that way as well.”
Stable stalwart Dalaalaat is set to line up in the Catanach’s Jewellers Handicap (1200m) and Doyle has one eye on a race for him on the Big Dance card next month.
The gelding ran an improved second at Eagle Farm third-up from a break after dealing with wide gates in Sydney and the trainer is relieved to have a soft alley.
“That’s when he’s been at his best, when he can be covered up and expose him late,’’ he said.
“He drew a nice gate in Queensland and ran a respectable race.
“It’s a bit tougher for him here but I’d like to keep him down here for a race at Randwick. That’s the main reason rather than being on a truck twice in one preparation.”
The race Doyle has in mind is a five-year-old and up Benchmark 84 over 1200m on November 7.
– Racing NSW