By Ray Hickson
Trainer Bryan Dais will seize the opportunity presented by what some would regard as a tricky barrier to have consistent Queenslander Looks Like Elvis ridden off the speed in Saturday’s $1m The Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange.
The five-year-old has a distinct pattern of being able to sit handy when he draws inside, as he showed in his four spring starts in Melbourne, but has little trouble adjusting to being ridden back when he draws out as evidenced by his Eagle Farm win before travelling south.
“We’ll have a look at the speed but a lot of his better performances have been when he’s been ridden back,’’ Dais said after the horse drew gate 16.
“He has a dynamic turn of foot when he’s ridden back off the pace.
“In his four runs in Melbourne he drew one, five, three and three and they were in races devoid of speed and he’s just landed there on the pace.
“Nobody wants to draw out there but when you do it makes up your mind for you.
“But his figures from some of his races when he’s come from the back say he has a better turn of foot when ridden quieter.’’
Looks Like Elvis was only beaten three lengths in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at his first Melbourne appearance this spring, he had no luck at Moonee Valley two runs ago and was nailed in the last few strides by Yulong Prince at Flemington on November 5.
Yulong Prince dives at Looks Like Elvis and gets up.
— Racing.com (@Racing) November 5, 2019
Dais said his form reflects the type of horse the gelding is – an honest, tough competitor and while he wasn’t sure what he’d be meeting when he nominated for The Gong he’s seen enough this preparation to have a crack at a $1 million race.
“He’s deep into his preparation and when he ran at Flemington we thought it was an ideal race for him provided he bounced back from the run,’’ he said.
“I thought it was a great run that day, he hit the front a fair way from home and it looked like he was going to hold on.
“He was brave, if you go through his form he’s never too far away. That’s what he does, he’s a pretty honest horse.’’
Blaike McDougall has the job of steering Looks Like Elvis, who opened $16 with TAB on Wednesday.
He’s started well under $10 in his past three starts, two at Listed level, and Dais is confident his form can measure up.
The gelding has raced at metro level in NSW three times, the last occasion was a close third behind Goathland over 2000m at Randwick in March, and proven to be typically competitive.
“I would have thought his form lines up pretty well to give him a decent chance,’’ he said.
“Three of his four runs in Melbourne were in stakes grade and he had no luck in the other one.’’
The Eagle Farm trainer is also a part-owner of Looks Like Elvis and said he can’t believe he’s racing the horse for $1 million at the end of November.
“It’s incredible, hats off to Racing NSW. When you put up that sort of prizemoney you want the best quality field you can get,’’ he said.
“But it’s at a time of year when the Group 1 horses can’t keep running and they’ve had their grand final so it gives the chance to those horses that are around the edges to have a crack at a big pay cheque as well.’’