2014 Melbourne Cup hopeful Opinion has recorded only one race win in Australia, but the tough stayer is set to relish the step-up to 3200 metres in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Opinion has only previously had one race start over 3200 metres, but he produced one of the best performances of his racing career to storm home late to finish second behind The Offer in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 19.
The Oasis Dream gelding was sent to the spelling paddock after his impressive Sydney Cup performance and he returned to racing at big odds in the Canterbury Hurlstone RSL Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 16 and was a credible fifth in the Listed Premier’s Cup (1800m) at the same venue on August 30, but he failed to fire in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) on September 13.
Opinion returned to his best form when he worked home strongly to finish second behind Junoob in The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on October 4 and he had no luck when he was sixth in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) last weekend.
Jockey Tye Angland was on Opinion when he produced the best performance of his spring preparation in The Metropolitan and the talented hoop has had to put in plenty of hard work in order to be able to ride the stayer in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday.
“I said to the owners I wouldn’t get to the races being drained and tired and not feeling 100 per cent,” Angland told Fairfax.
“I promised them I’d do it properly and I’d get to the races feeling fit and healthy.
“I feel like I’m on top of my weight at the moment.
“I’ve gone out and got the right food and am going to train hard.”
Opinion is currently available at the lengthy 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $51, but Angland feels that the imported stayer is a better chance in the Melbourne Cup than he has been given credit for.
Angland admits that Opinion performs at his best on rain affected surfaces and is hoping for a bit of rain in the lead-up to the race, but he feels that the Chris Waller-trained galloper will be competitive no matter what the conditions in the Melbourne Cup.
“I’m hoping there’s a bit of rain down there as if there’s a wet track it will definitely bring the field back to him a little bit more,” Angland said.
“I wouldn’t have been trying to take the weight off and chase the ride as hard as I did if I didn’t think he was any good. I rate him as a top five chance.”
Angland will be riding in the Melbourne Cup for the first time and is chasing his first Group 1 victory in Australia since he took out the 2010 edition of the Coolmore Classic on Alverta.