Trainer back on track
SYDNEY trainer Con Karakatsanis is back in Grafton and looking to add to his formidable record.
Karakatsanis first arrived in Grafton with his father Tony, who campaigned with Little Lucifer in the late 1990s. Little Lucifer competed in four Ramornies - 1997-99 and 2001.
Since that time the Karakatsanis family, including uncle John, have been regular carnival visitors. Con first came to Grafton as a trainer in 2007.
"I've probably had 40-odd runners in that time for about 20-plus winners," Karakatsanis said proudly. "We've won seven races twice over the carnival. It's been very kind to us."
Karakatsanis missed last year's carnival after being outed following a sensational case involving Howmuchdoyouloveme.
On Victoria Derby day two years back, Karakatsanis and his father were caught with implements to tube Howmuchdoyouloveme. After a long, drawn out legal process, Con was outed for nine months and his father Tony for two years for conspiring to drug the galloper on raceday.
"As you know, I missed last year when I was out (disqualified). I'm really happy to be back," Karakatsanis said. "It's been a real struggle over the past 12 months. I've done it tough.
"It's now a matter of head down, bum up, work hard. I'm trying to look forward, not back. If I keep doing that the results will come."
Karakatsanis has rebuilt stables at Warwick Farm, many of his previous owners staying loyal. He has a strong following in Grafton.
Karakatsanis has a team of five horses in Grafton but the star of the stable, Howmuchdoyouloveme, will be missing. Karakatsanis was aiming the gelding at the Ramornie.
"He suffered a back injury after the Healy in Brisbane and has been spelled," Karakatsanis rued.
Three of his team - Adaboy Ross, Klisstra and Devoted Prosecutor - line up on the opening day of the carnival. Bells Of War is scheduled to race in a 1000m Class 1 handicap on Sunday.
Adaboy Ross, now back with Karakatsanis after formerly being trained by Jim Litt, tackles the $20,000 John Carlton Cup (1200m).
And the young trainer is hopeful a win would enable him to start the gelding in the $150,000 Crowe Horwath Ramornie next Wednesday. Otherwise it's the $30,000 Maclean Cup on July 13.
"He's a very nice horse," Karakatsanis said. "His first-up run at Scone behind Big Money was good and he pulled up with his back out next start at Rosehill. The chiropractor has been working hard to get him 100% right and this morning (Tuesday) he gave the all-clear.
"I'd put a line through his last run and expect sharp improvement.
"Klisstra is a mare I've got a good opinion of. I think she's in the right race.
"She's the class runner of the field but she's not overly big and has got to carry the weight (58kg)."
Matthew Bennett will ride both horses.