Con Karakatsanis may have enjoyed back to back Group 1 success with Black Piranha in the Stradbroke Handicap but that doesn’t mean he’s attacking the Ramornie Handicap at Grafton with any less intent.
If fact the trainer says while the prize money might be a far cry less, the significance of the race may well rival what he felt at Eagle Farm in 2009 and 2010.
The entire carnival at Grafton is held in high order by Karakatsanis and for that reason Black Piranha heads a very strong charge in 2011 with seven horses in his arsenal later in the week.
“I’ve been coming up to Grafton for a long time, even before I was a jockey or a trainer,” he said. ”
Dad (Tony) has always been a big supporter of Grafton and I guess my desire to win the Ramornie has grown from that.
“If I could win it, I’d be just as happy as I was winning the two Stradbroke’s. That is how much it would mean.”
Black Piranha couldn’t create history with a third Stradbroke after leaving his run too late and coming home in eighth place.
If he’s to win the Ramornie Handicap he’ll once again have to face off with the history books, his 61kg weight a monster of a task.
Since 1950 just one horse has ever carried that much to victory in the event, that was Scottish Craig way back in 1965.
“It takes a pretty good horse to win a Ramornie with a weight that we have,” Karakatsanis said.
“It is something that will be playing on my mind but I have the absolute faith in the horse. Not many horses are able to win two Stradbroke’s in a row.
“The way I am looking at it is that if weights weren’t capped at 61kg, he would be carrying a lot more.
“We didn’t race him at all in the autumn so we could concentrate on Brisbane and then come to Grafton.
“He has only had three runs this preparation and is as good as I can get him.
“It is not easy to prepare a horse for a tough 1400m race and then freshen them up and back to 1200m within a month, but he seems to be handling it.
“He’s nice and fresh, he’s bouncing around and looks a treat.”
Black Piranha ran on the course proper during Grafton’s race meeting on the weekend but it wasn’t anything spectacular with the horse already at peak fitness.
“It was only a 600m hit-out, pretty much just to stretch his legs and get him right for Wednesday,” he said.
“He is not the greatest worker, so we never really expect much from him until race day.”
The Rosehill based trainer is already on the board for the carnival with a winner last Thursday.
He came close to a second when narrowly beaten on the weekend but he expects a few more from his handpicked squad.
“Three months ago I sat down and worked out the horses I would be bringing to Grafton. It is not a last-minute option,” he said.
“The trip away really turns them in to proper racehorses and all mine are thriving up here at the moment.”
The race is shaping up very nicely with a good field expected to accept for the Ramornie Handicap.
Meet George may well be another in the mix for Brian Smith however his entry will be dependent on a bit of luck as well.
“I won’t run him if the track is too firm or he draws a wide barrier,” Smith said.