Training an Australian Cup contender can create a few nervous butterflies – just ask Luckie Karabitsakos.
“I’m lacking a little bit of sleep this week and have lost my appetite a fraction. I’m actually getting more nervous as the race draws closer,” the normally cool, calm and collected greyhound trainer confessed.
Luckie trains Hard Style Rico, one of the fastest greyhounds in this country and a firming $4.60 second favourite in Saturday night’s Group 1 TAB Australian Cup final (525m) at The Meadows.
The young sprinter blew the start in his heat last weekend, but he showed his undoubted class by coming from worse than midfield to comfortably beat a quality field and earn a shot at Saturday night’s $300,000 first prize.
WATCH: WATCH: Hard Style Rico (2) storms home to win his TAB Australian Cup heat in 30.09sec.
“The prize money alone scares me,” added Karabitsakos, who also bred and owns Hard Style Rico.
“To have a greyhound like this is a dream for every trainer.”
“I’ve landed a good one and I hope to go a really long way with him.”
“I pinch myself every morning and give him a kiss.”
Hard Style Rico, a winner of eight from 15 starts, is drawn in Box 3 in the Cup, a draw he has had just once before, at Sydney’s Wentworth Park, when he won in the fastest time of the night.
“I think he’s drawn well. He normally does come out of the boxes a lot better than he did in his heat and I’m expecting him to start well in the final.”
“He needs a little bit of room to move, and if he gets that I think he’ll go close.”
Victory would be Karabitsakos’ first at group level, something his brother Anthony achieved in 2017 when Black Mumbo won the Group 1 Harrison-Dawson.
“Seeing Anthony win a Group 1 gives me hope that I can do it as well, and with Hard Style Rico being closely related to Black Mumbo, it gives me confidence that he has the bloodlines to do it,” he said.
After running his own business for six years, Luckie got into training greyhounds when his father passed away, leaving behind a couple of dogs.
“When dad died, Anthony and I decided to train his dogs ourselves, including one called My Path Princess, who we eventually bred with, and she produced Black Mumbo.”
“Hard Style Rico is out of Bella Rico, who is a litter sister to Black Mumbo, so dad’s legacy has really lived on through our greyhounds.”
“Hopefully our list of group class dogs will go on and on.”
Luckie said it would be remiss of him not to mention fellow trainer Mario Briganti in this the biggest week of his training career.
“Mario has had a very big influence on my success as a trainer. He has been a real mentor to me,” he said.
The TAB Australian Cup will be run at 9.50pm on Saturday night.