Carousel goes around in summer
There aren't many things Like A Carousel hasn't tried over the years, but on Saturday at Pakenham the veteran is breaking new ground.
For the first time in a career that extends back to 2012 Like A Carousel is having a Christmas campaign after trainer Ken Keys decided to try something different this summer with a horse that is renowned for rarely winning but who has still managed to earn connections more than half a million dollars in prizemoney.
Like A Carousel has started 51 times and among those races are a handful of jumps starts, as well as 11 attempts at Cup races across three states. On Saturday, that number will rise to a dozen when he takes on the $250,000 Pakenham Cup over 2500 metres at Racing.com Park.
"He's been an amazing horse and it's amazing that he hasn't won one of them," Keys said on Wednesday of his previous Cup attempts. "He's been placed many times in Cup races but he always manages to find one better on the day."
Like A Carousel's Cup days might be numbered after his attempt on the Pakenham Cup. Keys explained that he has embarked on a new plan in the hope of maximising the horse's longevity.
"It's a different sort of prep to try something different and to keep some freshness in his legs," Keys said. "He'll have a few starts and then go and have a break before coming back for the jumps."
Keys had never given the horse a Christmas campaign before but decided that it took him so long to get the horse fit that he has kept him in training.
"He's one of those horses - he's a big horse - and he gets very big and otherwise you'd be pounding the work into him right through summer trying to get him fit for winter and it didn't make a lot of sense to do that," Keys said.
"Besides, I don't believe he's finished on the flat. He's maybe not at the absolute top end but he's competitive in most staying races.
"Just because you jump a horse, doesn't mean you don't think it's good enough to still be a flat horse."
Like A Carousel is coming off an eye-catching first-up run over 1800m at Sandown last Saturday and Keys said that while the 2500-metre Pakenham Cup comes up quickly for the horse, he said he was confident he would acquit himself well.
He doesn't think his stayer can win on Saturday but he knows he's going well enough to trouble his rivals.
"I'd be silly to say that (win) when you look at the top three or four in it coming out of the Ballarat Cup but I'm pretty convinced that, regardless of his fitness levels, he has great natural stamina and that he'll finish forward in the race," Keys said.
Keys said Like A Carousel was likely to be given his summer break after the Bagot Handicap over 2500m at Flemington on New Year's Day, with an eye to having him ready for the rich May jumping carnival at Warrnambool.
"He loves jumping and he'll go back to it," Keys said. "We've always jumped him in training and he's a lovely jumper, who will eventually get over the bigger obstacles.
"I thought he did really well at his first jumps campaign in the winter. I think he just got a bit tired at the end of that campaign because he'd had a busy 12 months," Keys said.
Like A Carousel's history in Cups:
4th Adelaide Cup
13th Sydney Cup
3rd Geelong Cup
2nd Sandown Cup
9th Mornington Cup
3rd Sydney Cup
5th Moonee Valley Cup
4th Sandown Cup
8th Adelaide Cup
6th Sydney Cup
15th Adelaide Cup