Jason McLachlan has Dieters set for the Black Opal and Golden Slipper

Jason McLachlan has Dieters set for the Black Opal and Golden Slipper

Jason McLachlan isn't heading south "for something to do". The Queensland trainer wants to keep his family's perfect Black Opal Stakes record intact and follow in his late father's footsteps at the same time.

Then he'll shift his gaze to winning the Golden Slipper Stakes, the world's richest race for two-year-olds, before he returns to the sunshine state.

Jason McLachlan (left) hopes to take home the Black Opal 25 years after his father Bruce (right) won it.

Jason McLachlan (left) hopes to take home the Black Opal 25 years after his father Bruce (right) won it.

Photo: Jenny Evans

McLachlan is bringing Dieters to Canberra's Thoroughbred Park for the group 3 Black Opal Stakes (1200 metres) on Sunday, which will mark the 25th anniversary since his dad Bruce won it with Sormani in 1991.

The Sunshine Coast trainer was confident ahead of both the $275,000 Black Opal and the $3.5 million Golden Slipper (1200m) two weeks later.

If he achieves his goals he'll become just the second trainer to do the Black Opal-Golden Slipper double, after Queanbeyan trainer Frank Cleary managed it with Catbird in 1999.


McLachlan and Dieters left the Sunshine Coast for Randwick on Sunday night and will finish the trip to Canberra on Sunday.

"Mate, I'm not bringing him all the way to Sydney for something to do," he said.

"We've trained a lot of horses over the years, we've won a lot of big races too you know, dad and I."

Dieters was meant to run in the $2 million Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic (1200m) on the Gold Coast in January, but he was scratched on the eve of the race due to a stone bruise.

While McLachlan was disappointed to miss out in his home state, a Black Opal win would help him get over it.

Bruce won it on his first trip to the ACT in 1991 and now McLachlan is having his first crack at it 25 years later.

McLachlan said Dieters, who had won both of his starts, trialled well last week.

"He's a pretty smart horse and undefeated. He had a little setback going into the Magic Millions, nothing he can't get over," McLachlan said.

"[The Black Opal] is a good race for him going into the Slipper. We won it years ago.

"Dad won it with a horse called Sormani in the early '90s. It's a race we've had one runner and one winner in it.

"It's good prizemoney and I think it's a good way to go into the Slipper. I'd like to win it too, definitely."

The plan is then to head on to the Golden Slipper, a race McLachlan knows all too well.

He famously trained Phelan Ready, in conjunction with his father, to win not only the 2009 Slipper, but the Magic Millions Classic earlier that year as well.

It's just one of two horses to do the Magic Millions-Golden Slipper double, with Dance Hero also achieving the feat in 2004.

Bruce died of a heart attack just two months later.

Dieters can't replicate the double, having been scratched the night before the Magic Millions.

McLachlan said the colt needed just a couple of extra days to get over the injury that ruled him out.

"It was a minor setback. He had a slight stone bruise and if we'd had a day or two more he would've run," he said.

"Phelan Ready won the Slipper and the Magic Millions. [Dieters] was scratched out of the Magic Millions so I just hope he runs well in the Black Opal and can get into the Slipper."

David Polkinghorne

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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