Opal should regain group status: Layt
All That I Am, with Mark Whiteman on board, wins the 2YO handicap at Thoroughbred Park on Friday. Photo: Colleen Petch
Neville Layt has backed Canberra Race Club's push for group status for the $250,000 Black Opal Stakes, saying it never should have lost it in the first place.
The Black Opal (1200 metres) was a group 3 race until it was downgraded to a listed race in 2006, but strong fields in recent years have it knocking on the door to regain group status.
Peter Snowden's Epaulette won last year's edition before going on to win the group 1 Golden Rose, as well as placing third in the Caulfield Guineas behind All Too Hard - Black Caviar's half-brother.
Layt won the Opal in 2008 with Sarthemare and ran second with odds-on favourite Karuta Queen three years later.
''It was a listed [race] when I won it with Sarthemare and it was listed last year and it should be a group race, it's worth more prizemoney than a group 2,'' the trainer said.
Layt had two runners in the two-year-old handicap (1000m) at Thoroughbred Park on Friday, with Torio Magic running second to Tim Martin's All That I Am by a long neck, with Layt's other horse, Flying Mamuza, 1¼ lengths away in third.
Shrek Her Out settled in the lead, but compounded to finish last, while the Nick Olive-trained $1.60 favourite Without A Shadow was caught three wide down the back straight and finished fifth.
Torio Magic has a first and second from his two starts, winning a maiden at Queanbeyan last year.
Flying Mamuza finished last to Gai Waterhouse's Sweet Idea at Randwick in October at his only other start.
Layt was confident both would make it into the Black Opal field.
''I think they are [chances for the Black Opal], I think they're both very nice horses and I think they're on an upward spiral,'' he said.
''Flying Mamuza, he's probably going to get the 1200 down to the ground, but the other little fellow had a lot of weight and he only got beaten by a neck.''
It will be just the second time the Black Opal will be run as part of Super Sunday at Thoroughbred Park, with three other listed races on the card.
The $200,000 Canberra Centenary Cup (2000m), the Canberra Guineas (1400m) and the National Sprint (1400m) will also be run on March 10.
Layt said he wouldn't have any runners in this year's Canberra Cup, but was already planning for a possible starter in a few years.
''I've just bought one for about two years' time for the cup,'' he said.