Canberra trainer Nick Olive wants Black Opal Stakes and Australian Cup double
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Canberra trainer Nick Olive wants Black Opal Stakes and Australian Cup double

By the time Nick Olive is trackside watching Sizzling Belle in the Black Opal Stakes on Sunday, he'll have made eight trips between Canberra and Melbourne in eight days.

After 3750 kilometres in the air Olive says he's "sick of flying" but knows the travel comes with the job as the Canberra trainer chases two news crowns this weekend.

Trainer Nick Olive with Sizzling Belle the day before the running of the 2018 Black Opal Stakes.

Trainer Nick Olive with Sizzling Belle the day before the running of the 2018 Black Opal Stakes.

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

First his stable star Single Gaze will contest the $1.5 million Australian Cup (2000 metres) on Saturday, before Olive guns for his first Black Opal Stakes (1200m) with last-start winner Sizzling Belle on Sunday.

Single Gaze will start the group 1 third favourite on the back of consecutive runner-up finishes this preparation and a spring campaign that included second place at the Caulfield Cup and a Melbourne Cup debut.

Apprentice Kaline Bone grooms Nick Olive-trained Sizzling Belle in the lead up to the Black Opal Stakes.

Apprentice Kaline Bone grooms Nick Olive-trained Sizzling Belle in the lead up to the Black Opal Stakes.

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
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The mare was beaten last-start by Australian Cup favourite Gailo Chop in the group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield two weeks ago.

But Olive has declared Single Gaze in career-best form and believes his champion five-year-old will salute at Flemington.

"I couldn't be happier with her, I think she's best we've ever had her and I've just got a really good feeling about tomorrow [Saturday], I think she's going to run the race of her life," Olive said.

"The race is going to be run at different tempo [to Caulfield] with a lot of speed up front, I don't think Gailo Chop will get it all his own way.

"The fact she's improved so much is why I think she's such a big chance of beating him, he's a horse going very well and will be very hard to beat but I think Single Gaze is as good a chance as any."

The closest Olive has come to winning the $300,000 Black Opal Stakes - Canberra's biggest race - was when Single Gaze ran second in 2015, but Sizzling Belle poses a real chance from barrier one.

Olive has won a group 1 and raced in Australia's biggest races but said a Black Opal crown would top the list.

"I'm dying to win one and it would probably mean more than anything to be honest now that we've ticked the bucket list of winning a group 1," Olive said.

"I'm so passionate about Canberra and Canberra racing and to win the Black Opal would be number one for us at the moment.

"Sizzling Belle is going super, she's in the same space as Single Gaze and is as good as we've ever had her, she's improved lengths on her win the other day.

"But this is a lot better field so she'll need to have improved plenty to win it.

"She's drawn a great barrier in number one which really suits her, so without being over confident I think she's a genuine each way chance."

Olive has a second runner in the Black Opal with rising filly Dreaming of Biscay and said pointed to last year's $31 winner Trapeze Artist to highlight she's a chance.

"Another filly I really like, she's just been ticking along under the radar and will definitely appreciate the step up to 1200m. She'll settle midfield then hit the line hard and be right in the finish," Olive said.

Olive has Bring a Secret in the National Sprint (1400m), Let It Roll in the Canberra Guineas (1400m), Fox Tales in the Camarena (1000m) and Flight Tales in the Riharna Thomson Bracelet (1200m).

If Olive nails a perfect weekend across the board his stable will collect almost $1.5 million.

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Black Opal Stakes day:

Sunday: Thoroughbred Park, race one at 1:10pm - race eight at 5:40pm, tickets $25.

Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times

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