The 77th running of the Hobart Thousand takes place this Thursday night, with the sensational Black Magic Opal primed for his fourth group victory, and a second at Group 1 level.
Run over the 461 metre dash, the event has changed complexion dramatically since it was taken out by Elwick Boy in 1935, for starters, the £20 winner's cheque has swollen to a staggering $75,000. If Black Magic Opal can shine this Thursday night, and again run the hands off the clock like he did last week in his Hobart debut, he will earn around $2,923.98 per second.
The sleek black speedster was simply breathtaking in his heat, smashing the track record set by Bergermeister in 2011, when he blazed around the one turn circuit in a scintillating 25.65s.
It was another track record for resume of the son of Magic Sprite and Awesome Opal. He broke the Geelong mark over two consecutive weeks during the Group 2 Geelong Cup series in October, and also holds the Warrnambool 450m record, and time honours for the first section at Sandown Park.
Black Magic Opal ($1.45 Fixed Odds with TAB.com.au) has drawn the pink for the Thousand, a box from which he boasts the impeccable record of six wins and one minor placing from seven starts, however, he will need to outpace talented one turn chasers Ronan Izmir($8) and Paw Licking ($6) which have drawn directly underneath him in boxes six and seven respectively.
Ronan Izmir has won his last four starts, including a nail-biting victory over Paw Licking in the Group 2 Ballarat Cup earlier this month. That success, coupled with his wins in the Bendigo and Warrnambool Cups earlier this year, earned connections an additional $50,000 courtesy of a bonus awarded to the first greyhound to win three Victorian Country Cups in a calendar year.
The Sally Burns-owned greyhound did not show his customary blistering speed in the early stages last week, but proved too classy for his opposition when taking out his qualifier in a fast 25.87s. Remarkably, the son of Elite State and Adhara Izmir has to settle for being the second stringer in Jason Thompson's kennel behind Black Magic Opal, despite having won 31 races from 49 starts.
Like Ronan Izmir, Paw Licking was chasing the $50,000 bonus at Ballarat, having previously won the Traralgon and Shepparton Cups. The Kel Greenough chaser is as honest as they come and should not be affected by the draw if he can avoid interference from the rocket in the pink rug drawn directly to his right.
Robbie Britton will also be represented by two runners in the final, Clone Your Own ($14) and Farmor Las Vegas ($8). Clone Your Own, the Group 2 Harrison-Dawson winner, was narrowly defeated in his heat last week by local chaser, Hellyeah Bolt, whilst his kennelmate was ultra-impressive when clocking 25.78 for their Lara mentor. The duo are drawn beside each other in boxes three (Farmor Las Vegas) and four (Clone Your Own) with Farmor Las Vegas set to appreciate a draw closer to the rails after contending with an array of squeeze and wide draws of late.
Away from the five visiting Victorians, the Tasmanians have the three remaining finalists. Sing The Song ($35) has come up with the cherry and has enough speed to lead early, although she is yet to win from a box inside the four in seven attempts.
Yappin' Jack ($35) ran a gallant second behind Paw Licking in his heat last Thursday, taking ground off the son of Elite State to go down by just three quarters of a length in 25.77.
Hellyeah Bolt ($17) is a highly promising youngster, but has been afforded no favours in drawing box five. With seven wins from 10 starts over the distance, he is a track specialist and should be respected, and with his early pace and a personal best of 25.75, he is sure to come into calculations. It is also worth noting he possesses a perfect strike rate from box five, albeit in lesser company.
The Group 1 Hobart Thousand is set to jump at 9:44pm (AEDT) this Thursday night, and with Peter Staples live trackside, you'll see all the action on Sky Racing 1 (Channel 519).
G2 - Prix Maurice De Folleville
G2 - Prix Philippe Du Rozier
G2 - Breeders' Cup
G3 - Colonial Chief Stakes
G1 - Japan Autumn Internationa - Lchampions Cup