Opal Ridge signals Dane Ripper Stakes and Tatt’s Tiara intentions

A relieved Luke Pepper will press on to the Queensland winter carnival with renewed confidence after an underdone Opal Ridge maintained her perfect home track record with a classy victory in the Ortensia Stakes at Scone.

Pepper admitted to some pre-race anxiety given Opal Ridge hadn’t raced since November, but he banked on the mare’s ability and will to carry her through and she didn’t let him down.

“I was a bit nervous today. She’s had a long time off and (we’re just) getting her back but she was dynamite again,” Pepper said.

“She probably felt it the last bit, there is plenty of improvement left and that’s what we wanted to do, have her land in Queensland at her peak.

“I’d say she will go to the Dane Ripper (Stakes) into the Tatt’s Tiara.

“The Tatt’s Tiara is our grand final and she is having a good blow so there is plenty of improvement left.”

Opal Ridge ($3.10 fav) was allowed to find her feet by Tommy Berry and when he asked for a supreme effort over the final stages, the four-year-old knuckled down to deny Quick Tempo ($26) by three-quarters of a length with Iowna Merc ($3.80) closing late to grab third.

Her victory in Saturday’s Ortensia Stakes (1100m) came 12 months after she took out the Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) on the corresponding program, later progressing to Brisbane where she finished runner-up in the Dane Ripper Stakes (1300m) and fifth in the Tatt’s Tiara (1400m).

This time around, Pepper has centred her preparation around her winter carnival bid, deliberately bypassing the autumn in Sydney to present her in Queensland at her top.

“We missed all the autumn and focused on Queensland, hopefully we can get the job done up there,” he said.

A race earlier, blue-blooded filly Commemorative delivered on the promise she had shown throughout her career to post a dominant win in the Listed Denise’s Joy Stakes (1100m).

A granddaughter of two-time Group 1 winner Mnemosyne, Commemorative ($4.40) unleashed a dazzling finish under apprentice Zac Lloyd to cruise to a 1-1/4 length victory over Spring Lee ($3.50 fav), prompting Godolphin assistant trainer Darren Beadman to predict there would be “bigger fish to fry with her”.

“It was extremely important for this filly being a stakes race,” Beadman said.

“She has promised to deliver something of that nature, and it was good to see her do it today.

“It’s always nice to come up here with these horses, they’re born and bred here and for Darley and the Godolphin team up here, they get a big thrill out of the day seeing the horses go around.”

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