22 February 2024

Canberra Racing Club is preparing for a Super Sunday you'll never forget

| Tim Gavel
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Canberra Racing Carnival will be held on 10 March 2024. Photo: File.

Save the date! The Canberra Racing Carnival at Thoroughbred Park is on 10 March. Photo: File.

It’s been a year in the making, and Canberra’s million-dollar race day is almost upon us.

The traditional two-day Canberra Racing Carnival has been condensed into a Super Sunday on 10 March.

There are four stake races, including the Group 3 John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes and the Listed TAB Canberra Cup.

Both races have increased prize money to $250,000.

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Then there is the Listed Iron Jack Canberra Guineas and the Listed Seears Workwear National Sprint. The two races offer prize money of $165,000.

The bumper 10-race program at Thoroughbred Park has attracted strong interest, with the extended gap between the Black Opal and the world’s biggest race for two-year-olds, the Golden Slipper, expected to be a key factor.

entrance to thoroughbred park

This year’s Canberra Carnival could attract some of the country’s top two-year-olds. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

In 2023, the six-day turnaround from the Opal to the Slipper was considered too short. This year, the almost two-week gap between the two races is considered ideal.

As we head into the 51st running of the Opal, history shows that a Black Opal winner has only once gone on to win the Golden Skipper in the same year.

That record, of course, belongs to Catbird in 1999, but it’s important to recognise that seven Black Opal winners finished either second or third in the Slipper.

Black Opal Races 2020, Canberra Racing Club

Black Opal Races 2020, Canberra Racing Club. Photo: Canberra Racing Club.

The timing of this year’s Canberra Carnival could attract some of the country’s top two-year-olds as preparation for the Slipper.

The Listed TAB Canberra Cup is not to be discounted as an attractive proposition to the top trainers if 2023 is anything to go by.

The quinella in last year’s Cup, Arapaho and Explosive Jack went on to win Group 1 races – Arapaho winning the Tancred a few weeks after the Canberra Cup, and Explosive Jack won the Sydney Cup.

While the prize money and the 10-race card on a Sunday will attract the top trainers and jockeys, the local trainers have had plenty of success during the Canberra carnival in the past, traditionally winning over a third of the races.

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Canberra Racing Club Racing and Equine Welfare Manager Chris Polglaze said they’re hoping to attract top-class fields on the Super Sunday meet.

“We are on an upward trajectory, and it is our hope that we can continue to attract world-class gallopers to Thoroughbred Park,” he said.

And it’s clear that this is ready to happen as optimism is unfolding into reality with the prospect of a high-quality field racing on 10 March for the benefit of all racegoers.

To find out more about Super Sunday on 10 March, including The Group 3 John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes, visit Thoroughbred Park.

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