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Horse racing trainer Toby Edmonds leaves door open for Houtzen at Black Opal Stakes

Canberra punters will be praying for rain, but trainers eyeing the prized Black Opal Stakes will be hoping for a drought in Queensland this week.

Golden Slipper favourite Houtzen has been nominated for the 1200 metre Black Opal, but mother nature will determine whether or not she runs at Thoroughbred Park.

And it looks like the fans will get their wish.

The unbeaten filly has been nominated for races at Randwick, Eagle Farm, and Canberra, but the forecast could have trainer Toby Edmonds leaning towards the capital.

Showers are expected in Canberra at the end of the week, but it still compares favourably with Brisbane, where Edmonds is weighing up a 1000m handicap.

Randwick’s group 2 Riesling Stakes (1200m) is the third race on the agenda, but the track is already feeling the effects of recent rain and the forecast isn’t promising.

“I’m just going to leave my options open,” Edmonds said.

“If we can get [to Canberra], we’d love to run her there but it’ll just depend. She’ll run well wherever she goes.

“She’s a pretty sharp filly, so I’d imagine she’d be one of the top chances in the race, depending on barrier draws and stuff.”

Barrier draws weren’t an issue in the Magic Millions 2YO classic after Houtzen claimed the spoils from barrier 21.

Should Houtzen end up at Thoroughbred Park, the two-year-old filly will be tested by the highly regarded Muraaqeb and controversial Blue Diamond scratching Jukebox.

Queensland-based Edmonds says the delayed decision will not have any effect on Houtzen’s preparation – the float is ready and that’s all they have to worry about.

“The float is ready to go, we’ve just got to chuck her on and away we go,” Edmonds said.

“The horses travel up and down that freeway pretty easy now, it’s a pretty easy trip.”

Canberra Racing chief executive Peter Stubbs says Houtzen’s nomination could scare a few trainers away, but isn’t too concerned with plenty of horses in need of more prizemoney to shore up a place in the Golden Slipper field.

Stubbs says the 2017 Black Opal instalment is already “shaping up as a pretty good year” given the strength of nominations.

“If they’re not in [Canberra] on Sunday, they’ve got to run in Sydney on Saturday,” Stubbs said.

“Randwick will be rain-affected, so there’ll be a bit to work out before the final [Black Opal] field is settled.”

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