Group 3 Status in 2015
Canberra Racing Club Chief Executive Peter Stubbs is confident an increase in prize money should guarantee the upgrade of the Black Opal Stakes to Group 3 status in 2015.
Increasing the overall prize packet to $275,000 should continue to see some of Sydney's leading two-year-olds contest the event and ensure the high level of race standard is continued in 2014.
"We are in a position where we have to have our Listed races at a higher level of prize money than perhaps some of the other states who don't have that competition on their doorstep," Stubbs said.
Having returned a Group 3 rating the past two years running the Canberra Racing Club now only requires a similar rating in 2014 to meet the criteria of the Australian Racing Board and have the race upgraded.
"If the race achieves a rating above 100 in 2014 the race meets every criteria required to be upgraded to Group 3 level and I couldn't see any reason why it wouldn't be upgrade for 2015," Stubbs said.
The Capital’s richest race was downgraded to Listed level in 2006 but has rebuilt itself as a key fixture on the Autumn juvenile calendar over the past four years with Darley being one of the race clubs leading supporters.
"Darley have been a great supporter of the race, Peter Snowden does seem to target the race with a quality two-year-old especially over the last couple of years and in the past and is definitely a great sign for the race club moving forward," Stubbs said.
The strength of the form out of the Black Opal has proven of the highest level in recent years with the 2012 winner Epaulette going on to win last year’s Group 1 Golden Rose before taking out this year's Doomben 10,000, while this year’s quinella in Criterion and Sidestep have both gone on to be victorious in Group 2 company with Sidestep finishing a gallant fourth in last weekend's Group 1 Golden Rose.
The decision to amalgamate Canberra's two biggest racedays into one fixture has also proven a catalyst for the high level of standard.
"The combination of the ACTTAB Canberra Cup into the program over the last two years has certainly boosted the day overall and I think it has had an effect on all our listed races they have been very strong the last two years," Stubbs said.
"Really everything about the day has been a winner since we amalgamated the two racedays, crowds and race quality have been great but you've got to keep at it to maintain the momentum moving forward."