By Ray Hickson
Trainer Jarrod Austin is well aware that it’s closing on 600 days since Looks Like Elvis last greeted the judge in first place and ahead of his 10th start under his care there’s getting a sense of urgency about a breakthrough win at Hawkesbury on Saturday.
The six-year-old was sent to Austin with a view to trying to win the Group 1 Epsom Handicap in the spring and he made a good fist of it finishing fifth, 1.6 lengths from Probabeel, but just hasn’t been able to get the breaks in general in his time in Sydney so far.
So he says coming out of carnival races into the Group 3 $200,000 Evergreen Turf Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) is a prime opportunity for Looks Like Elvis to produce his best.
“We ran him in the top grade and he competed in it all preparation, and he ran super that day in the Epsom but couldn’t get the chocolates,’’ Austin said.
“His first two runs (this time in) were good, he was beaten by better horses and he couldn’t have done much more, and he had excuses for that last run.”
His last win was over 1835m at Eagle Farm in September 2019.
Looks Like Elvis, $11 with TAB on Thursday, was beaten half a length by Think It Over in the Liverpool City Cup (1300m) first-up then finished two lengths off I Am Superman and Think It Over again in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m).
Austin elected to step the gelding up in trip for the Group 3 Neville Sellwood (2000m) but he could only manage seventh behind Shared Ambition in a race not run to suit anything but the winner.
“It was the first time over the 2000m for a while and he just travelled too strongly during the race,’’ he said.
“They went slow and it turned into a sprint home, and he over raced and it left nothing to finish off with. The drop in grade should really suit him.”
The dilemma for Austin heading into the Hawkesbury Cup is how to instruct jockey Jason Collett to offset drawing outside in the field of 11.
It’s a race with at least two designated front runners, 2019 Hawkesbury Cup winner Archedemus and the grey Gresyful Glamour, and he’s drawn alongside the former of them.
“I think we try to settle him and run home,’’ he said.
“It’s how he’s won many of his races before and I think if we try to come across and he doesn’t get cover he can get over racing and we’d be in trouble.”
Austin’s consistent sprinter Inanup is back for another preparation in the Listed $140,000 Hawkesbury XXXX Gold Rush (1100m) and, like a number of trainers, he’s banking on luck going his way in a race that looks fast on paper.
Inanup, $14 with TAB, recorded a Listed third behind Eleven Eleven in the Canterbury Classic (1200m) on January 1 and he’s been set to fire in Saturday’s race and at his next start at Rosehill in two weeks.
“He always runs a good race, he always runs well fresh as well,’’ he said.
Looks Like Elvis runs third in a trial at Randwick on April 20
“He’s drawn a bit awkward but there looks plenty of speed on. He’ll get back but he’s primed and ready to go.
“We planned on bringing him back to race through the winter when the tracks are a bit softer. He’s just as good on top of the ground it’s just that some of the others aren’t as good on the wet tracks.”
The seven-year-old is pleasing Austin in his work, he describes the horse as free and loose in his action and that tells him Inanup is in a good place and will produce his best if the race is run as expected.
“He’s got to be rolling into the race and hopefully we can find a bit of luck and let him finish off,’’ he said.