Black Opium Returns To The Big Stage

BLACK Opium returns to group racing in Thursday night’s Easter Gift, and part-owner Bill Buccilli couldn’t be happier to see his champ back on the big stage.

Mick Floyd

8 April 2020

THREE time group 1 runner-up Black Opium returns to group race company in Thursday night’s Easter Gift, and part-owner Bill Buccilli couldn’t be happier to see his champ back on the big stage.

She’ll be taking on one of the hottest fields seen in recent times – the Easter Gift features five Cup winners including TAB Melbourne Cup winner Whiskey Riot and his littermate, TAB Australian Cup winner Fernando’s Riot, with the eight runners combining for $2.4m in prize money.

“It’s a group 1 field, worthy of a Melbourne Cup,” he said.

“But it’s great to have her back, she’s one of those dogs that is so good to watch when she’s racing at her best.”

Black Opium burst onto the scene the day she turned 18 months of age in September 2018, winning her first seven career starts before running second to My Redeemer in the TAB Melbourne Cup final.

She has since ran second in the TAB Australian Cup and Brisbane Cup, and made the finals of the Golden Easter Egg, National Sprint Championship, Topgun and Million Dollar Chase. She has won $435,722 in prize money – a record for a greyhound without winning a group race.

While her prize money total is extraordinary, it’s a group race win that Buccilli yearns for.

“That’s the shame of it for her, I feel she deserves to have a group race to her name. She’s done a lot to date without snaring one.

“She’s won a lot of prize money but you don’t do it for the money. The money is a by-product and it’s great, but you do it for the glory of the win. Like the Melbourne Cup – the prize money is sensational – but the thrill is winning that Cup.

“When I tell people outside of greyhound that they laugh at me, but they just don’t get it. Once your dog’s racing you’re there to win, the thrill is in the win and she deserves to win a good one.”

Buccilli races a number of greyhounds with his cousin Serge as part of the ‘See The Dream’ Syndicate.

It’s a shared passion that has seen the Buccillis claim some of the sport’s biggest races, including the TAB Melbourne Cup with Black Magic Opal.

But few greyhounds have won them over like Black Opium has, and is all the more satisfying given they bred ‘Sarah’ with their own sire (Black Magic Opal) and dam (Captivating).

“I think it’s the way she races that just excites you, the way she gets out goes. There’s something about her and she’s attached to our hearts.

“When you breed dogs yourself, with your own sire and dam it’s more exciting, more special. We do this together and it’s fun for us, it’s something we do outside of our businesses and especially at this time, it’s really the only out we’ve got.

“I’m a fan of AFL – of most sports – but there’s nothing live now so to have greyhound racing going is great. And watching your own dogs going around is exciting.

“For me and Serge, it doesn’t matter what grade it is, what race it is, we just love watching them race. We’re fortunate to have had dogs win group races, but winning any race is good.”

The Easter Gift will be Black Opium’s first appearance at group level since the Topgun last November and her first start at Sandown Park since last July. She enters the race with three wins and two second placings in her five starts since returning from a spell, and opened a $6.50 chance with after drawing box five in the $25,000 to the winner event.

While normally an uncomfortable draw, Buccilli was happy enough with the yellow vest.

“It’s a box that she likes (she’s won four and placed twice from seven starts from box 5).

“We don’t think it’s a concern. Most of those dogs are 5.0 (second) dogs to the mark so it’ll be interesting into the first turn. The way she’s been racing her last few starts, she’s been beginning like we know she can and if she can do it again she’ll put herself into the race.

“If you go through the field, it’s one of the best fields I’ve seen for a long time.

“All of them are in with a chance, it’ll just depend on who gets the run through the first turn. Whoever wins it will be a worthy winner.”