Karakatsanis: A star is born
Con Karakatsanis is a young man with the world at his feet.
Aged just 24, the former jockey turned trainer already has a Group One win in the bag courtesy of Black Piranha’s Stradbroke Handicap triumph.
On Saturday at Caulfield he will break new ground when he has his first runner in Melbourne. And it will be no low-key initiation.
Karakatsanis will saddle up Black Piranha in the Group One Toorak Handicap (1600m) but far from being overawed by the task he is taking it all in his stride, his enthusiasm the only giveaway.
"It’s good for me. I’m only 24 and I’ve got one of the favourites for a Group One on Saturday and one of the chances in the Cox Plate," Karakatsanis said.
"I rode Mistegic in a Manikato and an Ian McEwen so it’s not all new to me.
"Once I stopped riding I brought some horses down here for (trainer) Tim Martin but this is my first time bringing a horse down here that I train.
"It’s pretty exciting."
If consistency won Group One races, Black Piranha would have a few more to his credit.
The six-year-old has finished first or second at his last six starts and five of those have been at the highest level.
The last time he finished out of the prizemoney was when he was seventh to Gergis at Randwick in March 2008 – 17 starts ago.
"There is no horse going around at the moment who is as consistent as he is," Karakatsanis said.
"The horse and the owners deserve him to be running in these types of races.
"He has earned a crack at the big time."
Black Piranha arrived in Melbourne last week and has settled in well at his Caulfield base.
Karakatsanis galloped him on the course proper there on Tuesday and said while the gelding stargazed at the marquees being erected for Guineas day he finished off the workout stylishly.
Caulfield is renowned for being a tricky circuit for newcomers to negotiate and Black Piranha faces a double challenge having never raced in the anti-clockwise direction.
But Karakatsanis gives the impression he has done his homework.
"It is always a concern but back at home he has won on big tracks and tight, little tracks so he is versatile," he said.
"Caulfield can be a bit tricky. It’s up and down and then it sweeps around the corner.
"But he is a horse who can adapt to different situations.
"I’m confident he will perform well."
If he does, Black Piranha will go straight into the Cox Plate without another run.
Beyond that, a trip to Hong Kong for the Champions Mile in December beckons.
"He did get invited to go to Hong Kong," Karakatsanis said.
"It all depends on how he pulls up after the spring.
"We will probably make a decision after this run and get him done (inoculated) just in case."
Black Piranha has drawn barrier nine in the Toorak field of 18 and regular rider Tye Angland will again be aboard.
By Mandy Cottell