Sheer Talent: Sky's The Limit For Big Opal Rocks

BOOM youngster Big Opal Rocks returns to Sandown Park on Thursday night and punters should keep their eye firmly on the clock.

Mick Floyd

9 March 2022

BOOM youngster Big Opal Rocks returns to Sandown Park on Thursday night and punters should keep their eye firmly on the clock.

Trained by Mario Briganti, Big Opal Rocks has won five of his seven career starts including slick victories in 29.75 (twice) at The Meadows and 29.38 at Sandown Park. But it’s his last two trials that highlight the ability of the son of Kinloch Brae and Red Rocks.

After a luckless run in a heat of the Australian Cup, Big Opal Rocks ran in a satisfactory trial at Sandown Park running 29.031 – the fastest time run at the track by a greyhound not named Aston Rupee in almost 12 months.

FIELDS AND FORM SANDOWN PARK THURSDAY NIGHT

As pleasing as the run was, it was his vastly improved first split that most pleased Briganti. His 5.13 mark was a marked improvement on his previous efforts at the track having run 5.32 and 5.24 in his two race starts.

“I thought he’d run quick but going into that trial he was coming off an eight-day break and he hadn’t done much in between. I went into the trial just aiming to get cleared, his last section was never going to be his best section, so I was very happy,” said Briganti.

“We’ve done a little bit of work with him to get his box manners right. I’d like to see him 5.0s but I don’t know if he has it in him. My line has always been a strength line, never been a speed line regardless of who I go to. I’ve been to Brett Lee, Fernando Bale and Barcia Bale – you can’t get any more speed than that – and it still hasn’t thrown to the pups.

“But he showed a little bit of early speed which we need to find when we come up against the better dogs.”

Since that trial, Briganti said that Big Opal Rocks went to Bendigo last Friday and trialled 27.52, just 0.002 outside the track record.

Despite his inexperience, Big Opal Rocks will line up in a Free For All on Thursday night. While many trainers shy away from exposing talented pups to top class city talent, Briganti expressed no such concerns as he prepares to tackle some of the country’s premier races.

“He’s ready to rock. I don’t mind racing against the better dogs, they learn to race and run a lot truer. He doesn’t know he’s 20 months old, to him it’s just another seven dogs in a race.

“It’s another step up for him but I think he can handle it. He just needs to step and hold his line – I think he’ll get a bit of room early but it wouldn’t surprise me if he nailed it and found the front straight away.

“That trial is going to give him a bit of confidence, he’ll just need a bit of luck through the corner and if he gets any luck I’m sure he’ll be there at the end.

“If he doesn’t win on Thursday night he can come back the Thursday after and get ready for the Launching Pad, then we’ll look to Sydney for the Million Dollar Chase. I’ve got to give it a crack.”

While Big Opal Rocks is Briganti’s headline runner, his litter brother Black Spartacus is also on the Launching Pad trail and Briganti believes he too can give the 29 second barrier a nudge.

“He’s coming along in leaps and bounds,” he said.

“He’s drawn a bit sticky on Thursday night in box five, and has a bit of speed on his outside and couple on his inside that want up the track, so he needs miss it and get to the fence or nail the start. He hasn’t nailed it yet – he tends to begin better from an even box when he hasn’t got time to play up as much as when he goes in in the first line.

“But he’s really starting to come along real nice, I’m really liking him.”