TRAINER Con Karakatsanis has confirmed Melbourne Cup-Cox Plate winning jockey Michael Rodd will partner Black Piranha in this year's $130,000 WHK Ramornie (1200m) on July 13.
Karakatsanis initially approached champion Sydney rider Nash Rawiller for the mount, but Gai Waterhouse's stable jockey is unavailable for the ride.
Black Piranha arrived in Grafton on Wednesday evening to be prepared for the historic Listed event.
“He's arrived safely. It's all systems go,” Karakatsanis said.
Fortunately, Black Piranha is feeling far better than his Rosehill-based trainer.
Karakatsanis had two wisdom teeth extracted yesterday.
“I just can't talk much. I'll be fine in a couple of days,” he insisted.
Black Piranha, winner of the 2009 and 2010 Group One Stradbroke and an unlucky eighth to Sincero this year, will become the only dual group one winner to contest the Ramornie since its inception in 1917.
The Karakatsanis family, initially with Con's father Tony, has been trying to win the Ramornie for the best part of a decade.
Black Piranha is certain to be allotted maximum top weight of 61kg.
The last horse to attract maxi
mum top weight was Mr Innocent in 2001.
Coming into the Ramornie of that year, the Mal Gerrard-trained gelding's swansong, he finished third to Falvelon and Spinning Hill in the Group One Doomben 10,000 and third to Crawl and Hire in the Stradbroke. The previous year, Mr Innocent won the Doomben 10,000, his only win at racing's elite level.
In 2001, Mr Innocent was given top weight of 60kg in the Quality Handicap on a 52kg minimum.
He finished third to Juggling Time and Tyr.
The biggest weight carried to victory in the Ramornie was Lord Thomas, with 61.5kg in 1923.
More recently, dual winner The Jackal lumped 58kg in 2007 and Scottish Crag 61kg in 1965.
Black Piranha's presence has left numerous trainers considering their options before committing to a start.
Several fringe candidates are scheduled to tackle today's $100,000 Takeover Target Stakes at Gosford, including last year's Ramornie favourite Border Rebel. Other likely candidates will emerge from tomorrow's Healy Stakes at Eagle Farm, headed by top weight and last year's Ramornie winner, Pinwheel.
Meanwhile, a barrier trial at Canberra today will determine if Group One placed Here De Angels takes his place in the Ramornie.
The seven-year-old gelding, a winner of 11 from 31 starts and $736,000 prizemoney under Mark Kavanagh, was purchased recently by southern highlands veterinarian John Crowley for $82,000 at a Victorian tried horse sale.
Here De Angels was barred as a barrier rogue in Victoria.
Now with Wendy Roche at Goulburn, the gelding trialled to stewards' satisfaction at Goulburn on June 10.
If he passes tomorrow, Roche will prepare the Dehere gelding for the Ramornie, with Jeff Penza booked to ride.