Pepper’s ‘Baby’ Set To Mix It With Luskin Star Elders

She’s the baby of the field but trainer Luke Pepper is confident talented filly Opal Ridge has what it takes to mix it with older horses at stakes level at Scone on Saturday.

Pepper thought long and hard before settling on the Listed $160,000 Scone Equine Hospital Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) as the best option for the three-year-old after also nominating for the Ortensia Stakes (1100m) and accepting in the Denise’s Joy (1100m).

In the 10 years of the Luskin Star carrying Listed status no filly has won the race though it was won by a three-year-old, Flying Crazy, last year.

“She’s been so versatile her whole career,’’ Pepper said.

“I was worried about the 59kg in the three-year-old race and back to 1100m and I just thought she was suited more with a nice light weight on her back in the Luskin Star.

“There’s not much that she can’t do so if there’s a horse I’d be confident about taking on older horses with it’s her.

“If we are thinking about taking her to Queensland after this race she was going to have to race the older horses anyway so it’ll be a good test for her.”

The Scone trainer is at a loss to explain Opal Ridge’s disappointing fifth, as favourite, in the Group 3 James HB Carr Stakes (1400m) at Randwick a month ago.

It was on the back of a luckless fourth in the PJ Bell (1200m) and a dynamic first-up good track win in the Group 3 Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) in March.

Since the Randwick unplaced effort Pepper has sent Opal Ridge for a mental freshen up and believes she’s ready to produce her best on her home track.

“I think it was just an odd race all round,’’ he said.

“There was nothing wrong with her, we went over her with a fine tooth comb and she was fine.

“I’m not sure what happened there, it’s the first time she’s raced like that and come off the bit early.

“She wasn’t terrible, she just wasn’t comfortable in the going I think. She had a week on the water walker to freshen her mind and she seems as good as she can be.

“She’s spot on and can’t fault her, I’m excited to see her on her home track. It’s a big couple of days for the Scone community and it’d be great to get a winner.”

Dylan Gibbons takes the ride on Opal Ridge, who was pressing for favouritism at $4.20 with TAB on Wednesday in the Luskin Star.

– Racing NSW

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