Dual Stradbroke Handicap champion Black Piranha will be the headline runner in next month’s Ramornie Handicap at Grafton, and ace Victorian jockey Michael Rodd has been booked for the ride.
The Con Karakatsanis-trained warhorse Black Piranha, now a rising eight-year-old, is set to take on a talented field in the $130,000 Listed WHK Ramornie Handicap (1200m) on July 13.
With the veteran sure to attract a large crowd to the Grafton feature, even more attention will be paid to the day with Melbourne Cup – Cox Plate winning hoop Rodd to partner Black Piranha.
Clang gelding Black Piranha showed he could still match it with the best of them back on May 28 when he came within a length finishing third to Peter Snowden’s top mare Beaded in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m).
Continuing on in Brisbane, Black Piranha then attempted to win an unprecedented third straight Stradbroke Handicap, but could only manage to run eighth beaten four and a half lengths by gun three-year-old Sincero in the $1 million showdown.
Hitting the road, Black Piranha will now race in the Ramornie making his first appearance at Grafton since the winter of 2006, the galloper arriving safe and sound last Wednesday.
“He’s arrived safely, it’s all systems go,” trainer Karakatsanis said last week.
“He’ll have (had) three weeks to enjoy Grafton before the Ramornie.
“He’s back where it all started for him as he won his maiden at the Grafton Carnival in 2006.
“I hope he enjoys it as much as his trainer.”
Last year the Peter Snowden-trained Pinwheel, winner of last Saturday’s Group 3 WJ Healy at Eagle Farm, was the Ramornie Handicap champion but has been confirmed as a non-runner in the event this year.
While Black Piranha will be the major drawcard as the first multiple elite level winner to feature in the Ramornie since its inception in 1917, other likely contenders in the feature include last Friday’s Takeover Target Stakes winner Title and WJ Healy runner-up Metallurgical.
Making Black Piranha’s task even tougher next month is the fact he will likely be allocated the maximum top weight of 61kg, a weight he hasn’t carried since his eighth to Border Rebel in the 2010 Raheeb Handicap at Scone.
Former Coffs Harbour galloper Mr Innocent was the last Ramornie Handicap runner to have attracted the top weight when they carried 60kg to finish third behind Juggling Time back in 2001.
The Mal Gerrard-trained horse had previously placed third to Falvelon in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 and third again to Crawl in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap in a huge effort leading up to their Ramornie run that year.
Lord Thomas holds the current Ramornie Handicap weight-carrying record having won back in 1923 with 9 pounds 10, equivalent to 61.5kg.
More recently dual champion The Jackal had 58kg for their second Ramornie win in 2007, while Scottish Crag carried Black Piranha’s likely weight to victory (61kg) in the 1965 edition.