Veteran stayer Like A Carousel has caused an upset in the $250,000 Pakenham Cup, winning the Listed race at his second start back from a spell.
After a pleasing return on a wet track at Sandown over 1800m, Keys decided to send the eight-year-old gelding into Saturday’s Pakenham Cup (2500m) on a seven-day back-up with a sharp rise in distance.
It paid off as the $41 chance got home by half a head over another long shot, Khartoum ($31), with $4.20 favourite Oncidium Ruler another 1-3/4 lengths away third.
Like A Carousel won a hurdle race at Sale in June but his previous win on the flat was the Harry White Classic (2400m) at Sandown more than three years ago.
Keys did not want the gelding to spend too long in the paddock before the next jumps season so he brought him in for a summer campaign believing he still had something to offer as a racehorse.
It reaped a reward and the trainer was thrilled to see the stayer win.
Keys said the jumping last campaign had really sparked up Like A Carousel and was happy to give him his chance in Saturday’s race seven days after his pleasing fifth at Sandown, given he was a natural stayer.
“He’s got unbelievable stamina and he’s proved it today,” Keys said.
“I thought we were a sneaky place chance.”
While Like A Carousel registered just his fourth win from 52 starts, the grand campaigner’s record includes two runner-up finishes in the Sandown Cup (3200m) in 2013 and 2014, a fourth in an Adelaide Cup (3200m) and a third in the 2015 Group One Sydney Cup (3200m).
“This horse could have won two Sandown Cups and was third in a Sydney Cup. They weren’t flukes,” the trainer said.
Like A Carousel was ridden by Linda Meech, who was aboard the gelding for the first time on Saturday.
“He’s been a great old horse for Ken and it’s really nice to get the win for him,” Meech said.