Sunday afternoon was full of mixed emotions for Dave Hopperton when he saddled up Playing God stablemates Play Dice and Our Nemisis in the final two races at Bunbury
There were celebrations all round after Play Dice and Jade Mc Naught delivered a barrier-to-box victory in the TABtouch Hcp (1200m) but they were cut short 35 minutes later when Our Nemisis pulled up lame in the Own The Dream Hcp (1300m).
Play Dice had won a 3yo maiden at Christmas for Hopperton and his wife Jasmine (Photo / Western Racepix) when she got the better of Platinum Shot (Shooting to Win) after a drawn-out, front-running duel at Bunbury. His stepson Michael Jenkins is also in the partnership with several long-time clients.
“She jumped a couple of lengths in front from a wide gate on Sunday and Jade was very happy with the win,” Hopperton said.
“She’s still in her first prep and will have one more run before going to the paddock for a good break.”
That summer campaign finale will be in the LR WA Breeders’ Classic (1200m) back at Bunbury on Sunday week, February 4. Apart from her residual value, winning black-type would make Play Dice one helluva bargain by Playing God.
Veteran trainer Allen McNamara (Snr) raced her dam Scampin (Danehill Express) and loaned her out to the Hoppertons for a one-off season in 2019. She had won four races in the Great Southern but the most recent Stakes-winning filly on the page was Pop Culture (Blackfriars) in the 2014 edition of the LR Ascot Gold Cup (1800m).
“Allen recommended Scampin and thought she could throw a nice type,” Hopperton said. “Playing God was standing for $10,000 and now they’re getting three times that amount. I’m just glad we got in early.”
Our Nemesis is a year older than Play Dice and cost $12,000 as a new-season yearling in August 2020. “We actually bought him off the people who had originally bought him at the Mungrup Stud Dispersal Sale,” Hopperton recalled. “He’s 17 hands and promising but a bone cyst is hindering his progress.”
Playing God sired him from Snuglet (Scenic) and he’s currently on ice after tailing off ten lengths on Sunday. He was a last-start Pinjarra winner and was prominent until stewards reported he over-raced in the early and middle stages before tiring in the straight.
A post-race examination revealed the gelding to be lame in the near-hind and a vet clearance is required prior to him racing or trialling again.
“We’ve only got those two in work so I guess it won’t be that busy while they’re both on the easy-list,” Hopperton said. “Hopefully, Play Dice goes out with some black-type. She’s a strong filly but still green and you can see there’s more improvement to come.”
Playing God (Blackfriars) reached for the stars with Bustler in the $1.5 million Railway Stakes (1600m) at The Pinnacles and he continues to set the pace at the top of the table with the winners of 25 races since that Group 1 on November 25.
The Darling View Thoroughbreds champion has 43 yearlings catalogued for the Perth Magic Millions on February 22 and 23. Bargains would appear to be in short supply bearing in mind they averaged $134,000 last year.