Short term plans for promising filly Deep Opinions are squarely aimed at next month’s Grafton Guineas but, longer term, trainer Damien Lane hopes he has a Provincial-Midway Championships contender on his hands as well.
The three-year-old impressed Lane with her dynamic third-up win and it earned her a shot at Saturday’s Midway Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill as a distance test with a view to the mile at Grafton.
And with the Provincial-Midway Championships Final lifted to $1 million in 2024 it’s a logical target for a trainer like Lane if he has the right horse and that’s something he’ll know by the end of the prep.
“She would have to show she’s competitive in these next two races to go down that path,’’ he said.
“She’s going in the right direction, we don’t like to get too far ahead of ourselves but she’s one we love having in the stable.
“She’s a very laid back filly and has the right attitude, and she just switches off early. As long as she does that we know she’s got that turn of foot there to run good sectionals late.
“That’s why we pencilled in the Grafton Guineas as the main aim this prep but until these horses show you they run it then it’s a bit of an unknown.”
The $80,000 Grafton Guineas (1600m) is run on Ramornie Handicap day, July 12.
Deep Opinions, $7.50 with TAB on Wednesday in a wide Midway market, charged home from the back to win over 1250m at Newcastle on May 30 and in doing so put a turn of foot on display that tells Lane she can take more steps.
He’s rapt to have secured a favourable draw, barrier five, which he says will allow jockey Andrew Adkins to get her in a comfort zone and relax which will be crucial to the daughter of Deep Field extending her brilliance.
“She’s shown it on a couple of occasions early on but obviously that was her best win,’’ he said.
“She deserves her chance in a Midway now and she gets in nice and light and has drawn a good gate.
“One start last preparation I took her to Canterbury, she drew one and we tried to use the barrier and have her that bit handier and I think it took away from that turn of foot.
“We learned that day you’ve got to have her where she’s comfortable, if it’s out the back then it’s out the back.
“In an ideal world you’d like to see her midfield with a bit of cover and the chance to get to the outside.”
Stablemate Zorocat is headed for another shot at the breeding barn later this year but Lane is hoping a fourth career win isn’t far away after she returned to form at Warwick Farm fourth-up since her ‘retirement’.
The stakes placed five-year-old failed to get into foal to Pierro last spring so following a full body scan and receipt of a clean bill of health she returned to Lane and he says she’s now getting towards full fitness.
“I thought her first trial back was really good, I think the fact she had so long out and is a big, gross, mare I was a run or two behind all the way,’’ he said.
“I was really disappointed at Gosford (second-up) but I was happy with her Rosehill run, she gave a good kick that day, and she peaked at Warwick Farm the other day and just missed.”
Zorocat has a wide gate in the Fujitsu Airstage Handicap (1300m) but Lane said she’ll make light work of that and on her last start second to Ringarosa can give some cheek.
“She’s up a little again in grade, barriers aren’t a big thing for her because she’s very sharp out of the gates, but I still think she’s improved again,’’ he said.
“She’s been one of our better horses and I’d love to win another race or two with her before she goes back to stud.”
– Racing NSW