He has been a horse with a sizeable wrap on him from day one, and the Kris Lees-trained The Bopper has gone some way to franking those high expectations.
The Nicconi gelding started $4.40 and easily took out the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) at Randwick, beating Tommy Gold ($10) by 1-3/4 lengths with On The Lead ($4) a further 2-3/4 lengths back in third.
When quizzed about the horse’s name, Lees explained it was inspired by Newcastle icon, the late John “Bopper” Mooney.
“He was a good mate of my father’s actually,” Lees said.
“He was one of the detectives in Newcastle for many a year. He could tell a good story and there are plenty of good stories about him too.”
The Bopper’s only defeat in four starts to date was to Black Magnum at Canterbury on October 5 when they broke the track record over 1100m which had previously been held by Deep Field for more than six years.
Despite connections hatching a plan to take a sit on the three-year-old on Saturday, The Bopper found himself in front from gate rise.
“The plan was to ride just behind the speed,” Lees said.
“He got some pretty soft sectionals in the early stages and he was able to show the turn of foot we know he’s got.”
Jockey Josh Parr was glowing in his report on coming back to scale.
“This is the first time I’ve ridden him,” Parr said.
“He is well and truly on the rise. He will turn into a really nice sprinter.”
Lees will consider targeting The Bopper at The Hunter (1300m) in Newcastle next month, or spelling him with a view to an early autumn campaign.