Warwick Farm trainer Jarrod Austin believes a drop back to 1400m and a perfect barrier draw should make his gelding Carluca hard to beat in Friday's $32,000 MCRA Awards Hopkins Livermore Cup at Taree. The Hopkins Livermore Cup is the feature race at Friday's eight-race program which leads into Sunday's Showcase Taree Cup meeting.
Austin said Carluca hasn't had the best of luck in some of his races this campaign but is primed to add another victory to his career record of six wins and 16 placings from 42 starts.
"He's had a pretty luckless prep so far," said Austin.
"He didn't have much luck in a couple of his earlier runs in the prep and even last start at Canterbury when he ran fourth, the race wasn't run to suit him.
"But on Friday he's back to 1400m and most of his wins have been at the trip. He's got the inside draw, so should get a lovely run just off the pace.
"And I think he's in with a nice weight too with 57.5kg - I thought he may have been given a touch more.
Carluca kicked off his campaign with unplaced runs at Warwick Farm (May 9) and Canterbury (June 6 and June 27) before stepping up to 1600m on July 11 when second to Shock Alert in a Benchmark 71 at Warwick Farm.
His most recent outing was at Canterbury on July 25 when he finished fourth with 59kg to Gauguin in a Benchmark 74 over 1550m.
The drop back to the 1400m on Friday should be ideal as five of Carluca's six career wins have been over the 1400m.
Carluca was bred by owners John Rakic and Danny Scasni, who have had a lot of fun with the seven-year-old son of Volitant.
"He's been a very handy horse for them and his record could have been even better - I've lost count of how many times he's run second in town," said Austin.
For the record, Carluca has finished second five times on Sydney tracks. Austin has booked Jake Hull for Carluca at Taree, the jockey's first ride on the gelding.
"I've been friends with the Hull family for years and am happy to give Jake this opportunity," said the trainer.
Taree five-year-old ALot Like Home looms as the horse to beat in Friday's race, but has to overcome barrier 13 in the 14-horse field.
The Steven Fell-trained gelding's two runs this campaign have been terrific, including a last-start win in the Danny Baker Sprint at Coffs Harbour on August 2. He also boasts a solid record at Taree with two wins and three placings from his five appearances on his home track.