Pat Carey has both Gondokoro and Angola in the 2014 Sydney Cup field and the veteran trainer is hoping that both horses will improve when they step-up to 3200 metres in the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Gondokoro stamped herself as a stayer to watch with an impressive win in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm during the 2013 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, but has failed to fire in four starts since returning to the races.
The Zabeel mare did not beat home a single runner in either the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 22 or the Group 3 Manion Cup (2400m) at the same venue a week later and Carey told RSN that he has been disappointed with the form of the four-year-old.
“Her form this preparation has been below expectation and Rhys (McLeod) has maintained the whole time that she feels like she has just turned into a bit of a grinding two miler,” Carey said.
“She is not in the same form as she was this time last year, she was flying this time last year, and we have been dealing with a couple of issues early in the preparation to get her up and going.
“We are constantly working towards getting her form back up to scratch and she is improving by the day.
“She races in blinkers and I will probably take the blinkers off and just leave her with a set of winkers on just to open her up a bit.”
Angola will be stepping up to 3200 metres for the first time in his racing career in the 2014 Sydney Cup and based on his performance in the Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m) will relish the tough staying trip.
The Helenus gelding made his debut at Group 1 level in The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5 and beat home just a single runner, but Carey said that he was more than satisfied with the run and expects a competitive performance from the five-year-old in the Sydney Cup this weekend.
“I think the important thing about that run was that he was only two lengths behind Voleuse De Coeurs, who is probably the marker for this race,” Carey said.
“He led in The BMW and he would be much better with any type of a sit in the run.
“Clearly in that race there was no leader and he became a leader default and he worked a bit too hard as a result of that.
“I thought that his run was full of merit and he was competitive a long way.
“Back to handicap conditions will be much more suitable.”
Angola is currently available at 2014 Sydney Cup odds of $61, while Gondokoro is one of the outsiders of the field at a quote of $81.