After back-to-back seconds in the Sandown Cup over the past two years, Cranbourne trainer Ken Keys is hoping his honest galloper Like A Carousel can finally go one better in the 2015 edition on Zipping Classic Day this weekend.
One of nine black-type features run at Sandown Hillside on Saturday, this year’s $150,000 Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) takes place over the two miles as Race 8 at 5:20pm (AEST) and features a final field of 15 stayers including Helike six-year-old Like A Carousel.
Drawn in a nice midfield barrier six with big race specialist Glen Boss in the saddle, Like A Carousel gets in on the 54kg minimum for his 33rd career start shooting for just his third victory.
One of his two victories to date was a Listed 2400m clash at the track he returns to this weekend when winning last year’s Harry White Classic before a third in that year’s Group 3 Geelong Cup over the same distance.
He was runner-up to Renew in last year’s Sandown Cup as well carrying 57kg, narrowly beaten by just a head, after carrying 55kg to second in the same race the year before behind Caravan Rolls On when it ran at Caulfield Racecourse in 2013.
This campaign Like A Carousel’s form has been hit-and-miss finishing well back in the field before his last start fourth to Dandino in the Group 3 Queen’s Cup (2600m) at Flemington last Saturday on Emirates Stakes Day.
Keys backs the horse up on the short seven day turnaround hoping to strike while the iron is hot at a track the galloper has an obvious affinity for and with a nice weight where he meets the Gai Waterhouse-trained top weight The Offer (60kg) six kilos better.
With a good 3200m record, Like A Carousel is a dour stayer and Keys is looking forward to getting him back out to the distance on Saturday.
“He’s been going well the whole way through this campaign, he’s just not competitive over the shorter distances,” he told Racing Victoria.
“I couldn’t be happier with him heading into the race.
“The reality is I don’t think he can win anything under 3200 metres, it’s where he’s at his best.”
Sandown Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au is an ultra-tight affair with four horses paying either $5 or $5.50 for the win with Geelong Cup winner Almoonqith ($5), Danny O’Brien’s Melbourne Cup Day winner over 2800m De Little Engine ($5), last year’s Sydney Cup champ The Offer ($5.50) coming off a brave Melbourne Cup eighth and the market mover Grand Marshal.
Chris Waller’s imported stayer Grand Marshal won this year’s Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) over the two miles in an upset during the autumn and was last seen finishing well back when 21st in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 3.
Keys is aware of the class and Melbourne Cup form of a number of Like A Carousel’s rivals in this year’s Sandown Cup field, but hopes he can be competitive as a $14 hope in the latest Sandown Cup odds.
“There’s a few from the Melbourne Cup field in it, but I’m as confident as I can be, I think he’ll be highly competitive,” he said.
After Saturday, Like A Carousel will be sent out to the paddock before an autumn campaign targeting the 2016 Sydney Cup in April that he ran third in behind the Waller stablemates Grand Marshal and Who Shot Thebarman this year.
Keys also hasn’t ruled out finally getting the horse into the Melbourne Cup field next spring.
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