Trainer Pat Carey is hopeful that tough stayer Angola can breakthrough for the first victory of his campaign in the Rain Lover Handicap (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Angola has performed well since returning to the races at Sale in September but has been able to score his first race win since he took out the Stayers Final (2400m) at Bendigo in March.
The Helenus gelding finished a strong fourth behind Sertorius in the Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m) on October 30 and was outclassed in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington on November 9 before returning to his best form with a third place finish in the Myer Spring Fashion Handicap (2400m) at the Randwick Kensington track on November 23.
Angola has no luck after being inconvenienced at the start of the Western Health Cup (2000m) at Flemington on December 14, but returned to his best form with a third place finish when stepped up in distance in the Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m) on New Year’s Day.
Carey told Racing Victoria that he has been happy with the form of Angola this preparation, but admitted that his inability to record a race win had been frustrating.
“His form has been good without winning and as we know in this business no one wants to go too long without a win,” Carey said.
“He ran well in the Bendigo Cup and in Sydney and though he disappointed once in between, his run was really good in the Bagot.
“We just made a concession for the one bad run where he led at a fast pace.
“He’s in good order, he looks well and he gets into Saturday’s race well on the minimum weight.
“I’m sure he’ll be really competitive again.”
Angola will face fifteen rivals in the Rain Lover Handicap this weekend and will jump from barrier six with Chris Symons on board, in what looks like being a very open race.
Chris Waller-trained Instrumentalist ($5) is currently a narrow favourite in Rain Lover Handicap betting markets, but there has also been support for Gottino ($7.50), Angelology ($9), Suspended Gem ($10), Vihanna Victory ($10) and Angola ($11).
Carey is chasing his first metropolitan victory in Melbourne since London Stripe was victorious in the Great Australian Doorstep Handicap (1600m) at Moonee Valley on November 15 last year.