Capitalist and Defcon are Sydney trainer Peter Snowden's best chances for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes (1200 metres), but the latter will tackle the group 3 Black Opal Stakes (1200m) at Canberra's Thoroughbred Park on Sunday first.
While Snowden is hoping to win his second Opal, no sooner had Goulburn trainer Kurt Goldman won his first Canberra Cup (2000m) and he was setting Faust to try for it back-to-back.
While Capitalist is the $4.60 second favourite for the Golden Slipper, Defcon is a $26 chance having finished second to Astern in the group 2 Silver Slipper (1100m) at Rosehill on February 20, as well as also coming second in the group 3 Canonbury Stakes (1100m) in his only other start.
Capitalist, on the other hand, has won all three of his starts, including the $2 million Magic Millions Two-year-old Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast in January.
He'll contest the group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
"They're our best two chances. It's a long way to go [though], I never get too far ahead of myself," Snowden said.
"I never think what will win and what should win, I just try and get as many as I can into the race.
"Capitalist is the favourite at the moment so there's no doubt he's probably our best chance, but we'll what happens."
Snowden was happy with Defcon's form going into Sunday's Black Opal on the back of two runs he rated as "solid".
He's looking to win his second Opal, having saluted with Epaulette in the 2012 edition of Canberra's feature race at Thoroughbred Park.
Snowden has been a big supporter of the Black Opal because of the prizemoney ($275,000), as well as being a good stepping stone to the Golden Slipper.
This year the Opal is on the week before the long weekend, with Canberra Racing wanting to maintain a two-week break before the Slipper, which was brought forward a week compared to last year.
"Both have been solid runs against good-class opposition, he ran well so sets up well for a nice run hopefully on Sunday," Snowden said.
"He's going well, a good gate would be helpful. The starts he's had prior he's drawn outside, a softer barrier no doubt will help him."
Goldman was expecting a much tougher listed Canberra Cup than when Faust saluted last year.
The listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m) is on at Randwick the day before and Goldman was expecting there to be a lot of dual nominations for the two races.
Given the $200,000 Canberra Cup offers $75,000 more prizemoney, he thought it would attract a stronger field than the Sydney race.
"This year probably shapes up to be a good race. I believe Godolphin are taking one there, [Chris] Waller's got a couple, Peter Robl's got Centre Pivot, there's going to be a good selection of horses," Goldman said.
"I think the prizemoney and being a big day - they're all going to have runners in the two-year-old [Black Opal] and things like that so chances are they will end up bringing the stayers down."
While Faust's recent form wasn't great, the son of Librettist has become a group 3 winning horse since he saluted in the Canberra Cup.
He added the Premier's Cup (2020m) at Doomben to his resume in May.
"It was race we thought we'd like to come back and try and win. The owners have been quite successful, they won it two years before that with Court Connection and then they won it with Faust, so it's been a good race for them," he said.
BLACK OPAL STAKES DAY
Sunday: Black Opal Stakes, Canberra Cup, listed Canberra Guineas (1400m), listed National Sprint (1400m) at Thoroughbred Park, gates open 11.30am. Tickets available from Ticketek.