Just moments after winning last night’s 2013 TAB Melbourne Cup with Black Magic Opal, trainer Jason Thompson took time out to answer five quick questions for grv.org.au.
Q. What overwhelming emotion are you feeling at this point?
A. “I’m just relieved. I’m glad it’s over. When you open up at $1.65 – which was way under what he should have been – you definitely feel the pressure. He ended up paying $2.20, which was about the right odds. He’s a great dog, but greyhounds are only animals and things can go wrong.”
Q. How do you rate Black Magic Opal compared other greats you’ve trained such as El Galo, Awesome Assassin, Whisky Assassin and Light Of Fire?
A. “He’s the best dog I’ve had. There’s daylight after him and then I rate those great dogs you mentioned all on a par. Black Magic Opal has always had potential, but after he had a bit of a break between July and September, and he has come back better, more mature and stronger. He is a rare dog, not just because of his racetrack performances, but it’s the whole package you get with him. His temperament is unbelievable. He’s so relaxed at the racetrack – he just switches off. He’s the ultimate dog. I’ve been lucky enough to train dogs that you just shake your head at in disbelief with regard to how good they are. When I had El Galo I thought I had the ultimate dog, but Black Magic Opal is even better.”
Q. You also trained Brett Lee for a brief period, can you compare him to Black Magic Opal?
A. “I only had Brett Lee for one or two starts at the end of his career, so I don’t really count him as one of mine. Darren McDonald did all the work with him.”
Q. Are you under pressure from breeders to retire Black Magic Opal to stud?
A. “I would have received 50 calls in the last month from breeders hoping on the off chance I might be putting him to stud, but it’s not going to happen for a while yet. Only injury will see him retired before his time. We have no intention of retiring him to stud. He’ll go in the Ballarat Cup, then the Hobart Thousand and that will be it for this year. Next year he’ll start with the Warragul Cup and the Healesville Cup, and we’ll go from there.”
Q. Is there a better feeling than winning the Melbourne Cup?
A. “It wouldn’t matter if the Melbourne Cup was worth $100 in prize money. I’ve had dogs in all the big races and this is the one I put more preparation into than any other. Four to six months out from the race I start planning to get as many of my team ready for the race as I can. And it has nothing to do with the prize money – it’s all about the prestige. If you surveyed every trainer and asked them to choose one race they would like to win more than any other, 99.9 per cent would say the Melbourne Cup, and the other .1 per cent, well I don’t know what planet they’re on.”
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OPAL’S PRECIOUS CUP VICTORY
Black Magic Opal leads Dyna Beth (7), Kiss Me Ketut and Shifty Sticka into the first corner. Photos: Clint Anderson.