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Nick Olive considers Inglis Classic as stepping stone to Black Opal for Fire Stoker

From the right, Single Gaze and Fell Swoop come home to finish in a barrier trail at Thoroughbred Park on Friday afternoon. Photo: Rohan ThomsonHaving conquered the highly fancied Mossman Gorge, the $250,000 Inglis Classic (1200 metres) could be the next target for Fire Stoker on the way to a potential group 3 Black Opal Stakes tilt.
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Canberra trainer Nick Olive is eyeing up the listed race for two-year-olds at Randwick next Saturday, but will wait and see how his colt pulls up before making a decision later in the week.

Fire Stoker proved too strong for the Matthew Dale-trained Mossman Gorge in the two-year-old handicap (1000m) at Canberra’s Thoroughbred Park on Friday.

The son of Denman won the gutsy battle up the home straight, finishing ½ length in front of Mossman Gorge with The Exchequer almost 1½ lengths further back in third.

Mossman Gorge won his first start in emphatic fashion two weeks ago and went in as the $1.30 favourite.

Dale had also nominated the son of Mossman for the listed Hinchinbrook Plate (1100m) at Randwick on Saturday, but opted to stay in Canberra.

Olive said he was still considering several options for Fire Stoker, including the Inglis Classic and the Black Opal.

“Really happy. The horse trialled super, he’s been going super. We thought he was a really good chance, but obviously when you’re taking on a $1.30 favourite you try and control your confidence,” he said.

“We’ll just see how he pulls up. He could go in the Inglis Classic next Saturday if he backs up, the [Black Opal] preview or the paddock. They’re all the options for him.

“[The Black Opal] is definitely an option for him, but the horse has got to be right. He needs to keep improving obviously, but things are going well with him.”

It was the first of three winners on the day for Olive, with Reliant saluting in the Maiden Plate (1000m) and Alba Gu Brath in the benchmark 60 handicap (1400m).

He also had stable star Single Gaze go around in her second barrier trial – up against Dale’s sprinter Fell Swoop – as she continues her comeback from a minor injury in the spring.

Single Gaze’s jockey Kathy O’Hara rode against her sister Tracy for the first time in years, with the latter returning from a two-year break.

The pair fought out a dead heat when they were apprentices in Gosford in 2005, but in the maiden handicap (1300m) – the last race of the day – Kathy was the best placed with fourth on Rosover.

Olive said he was still yet to decide on where Single Gaze will begin her autumn campaign, but it was likely to be in Sydney in a fortnight.

The $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick in April is one potential target.

“I still haven’t worked out where we’re going to start, but we’ll get through the trial and then we’ll make some decisions,” Olive said.

“There’s a few options … probably mainly Sydney, but Melbourne’s an option as well.”

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