Big stable numbers chase Premier night spoils
With a 12 race card and two Group races on the programme, you know that "Cup Week" is looming. The Robert Dunn stable is launching a huge assault on the night, with 13 runners engaged. Highlighted amongst these is the return of last year's Sires Stakes winner Franco Nelson who looked set for a great spring based on his run at last Saturday's Rangiora workouts.
Race One: Franco Nelson is one of three stable runners to contest the 1st race on the programme. He is joined in this 6 horse field by Rome's Burning and Blazin N Cullen.
John was super impressed by Franco Nelson's run at Saturday's workouts in which he beat home stablemate and cup aspirant in Mach Banner. "He felt like he was really ready to go. He's been brought along quietly but now its time to get serious. The overall time the other day wasn't super fast - 3.21.1 - but he's flown home and done it easy (last 800m in 55.5 and 27.2). I'm really looking forward to him being back out there.
Rome's Burning has the ability, but he keeps getting things wrong at the moment. He will certainly be the outsider in this line-up.
Blazin N Cullen was again obliged to do work on Sunday at Methven as leader Greenburn Creek stole some cheap sectionals. Taking the iniative, John went around and sat outside the pace. It was only in the last 100m that the run took its toll and even then the final margin was just 1/2 length. "He's really turned a corner,"said John. "If the pace is on and the chances are it will be, then he's a big hope to come over the top of them."
Race Two: Hurricane Bromac and Phantom Grin. This again is a smallish field, with just the 8 runners, but is certainly not lacking in ability.
Hurricane Bromac ran a solid 3rd at the Saturday workouts. He ran a strong 3rd behind his bigger named stablemates. He is 1st up here since running 7th behind Christen Me in the jewels. He has drawn reasonably well (in 4), but will derive a lot of benefit from the run. We will be looking to see him hitting the line strongly ahead of future assignments.
Phantom Grin has been going around for a number of weeks now against some top horses. He has been competitive in the main with a top 3rd behind Field Officer a fortnight ago. "It wasnt really his go," reflected John on the horse's Methven Cup run. "The stop-start nature of the race and sprinting home like they did, thats not him. Providing there is some consistent speed in the race, I would expect him to be right in this, especially for the placings."
Race Three: Massimo
Massimo has been going super races and is certainly one of the stable's most consistent horses going around. He trailled pace-making stablemate Cullens Spirit last week and tried hard to gun him down in the straight, eventually running a game 2nd to that horse. "If we can run 2nd again I will be stoked,'" said John. "Realistically we are all running for 2nd, providing Mark's (Purdon) one - Didjamakem Bolt - does everything right. He looks real smart."
Race 4: Donegal's Guest and Comenche
Donegal's Guest was having his 1st start for the stable at Motukarara, was expected to be too good and duly obliged. He has drawn up well in (1) over the 1950m. John was a little unsure of whether the draw was a help or a hindrance. "There's a ton of gas outside us to be honest. I'd expect the Purdon pair to be pushing forward and I know that Alex Hastie's one will be charging across. Hopefully we can hold up a reasonable spot. The horse is well and I expect another good run."
Comenche has had a wee break since a breathing problem here last month. "He seems spot on and his trial at Rangiora last week was super. Drawn awkwardly as he has, he will be able to stay out of the early rush. Providing the pace is as true as I think it will be, he could be getting home over a lot of them."
Race 8: Lauramegan
While she has been off the seen for 3 months, she too produced an encouraging workout run on Saturday. She has drawn perfectly in one over the trickey mile start position. John felt that she was well positioned for a good resuming run. "With Ken Barron's one outside us, (Hannah Jaye) that likes to go forward, we may get a good pozzie. A couple of the better ones have drawn a little awkwardly so it would be nice to get a goo slice of this one."
Lauramegan looked ready with this workout last Saturday
Race 9: Mach Banner
121223 - The formline says it all. This fella has simply been going super for the stable. He had a brief let-up after the Hannon and is now back, ready to take his chances against the "Big Two" of New Zealand Harness racing in Terror To Love and Christen Me. "The other two are champions and we have a very good, competitive horse. That's the reality," said John. "Hopefully we can utilise the barrier draw to take up a forward trailling position. He's generally good from the stand but has been a little scratchy a couple of times. The reality is that whatever we move towards now, the other two will be there also, so you push on and take your chances. What I am hoping for is a genuinely run race, with a fast final mile, not just a sprint home from the half and the quarter. If we can run 3rd, we will be stoked." This race will certainly be the key highlight of the night.
Race 10: Lumos
Lumos is 1st up for the Westview Racing No 6 syndicate after nearly 4 months off. He looked super ready for his resumption in running 4th behind Kotare Mahal at last Saturday's workouts. "I know Gavin was rapt with the run," relayed John. "He's done some work and gone to the line full of running. The draw is not ideal, but I am sure that he will be hitting the line with purpose. Whatever he does tomorrow, look for him to improve in his next few starts."
Race 12: Return To Sender and Nikola
Both horses have been away from the track for some time. They have been tightened up with recent trials and workouts and should both be competitive in this race.
Nikola was seen to be running home with purpose at the trials last Monday and then was run down late by race rival Major Sam at Saturday's workouts after leading. "He went really good in that workout," said John. "I know Mark Jones' one is quite highly thought of and we were competitive with it on the day. We like the horse and hopefully he can put in a good run for connections 1st up."
Nikola a good 2nd to Major Sam at Saturday's workouts
Return To Sender is 1st up since the jewels. He also ran home well at the Monday trials before running out a convincing winner at Saturday's workouts. He led and held on strongly running home last 800m in 57.4 and 400m in 28.8. "He has always had great speed so should be able to lead from his handy draw (3). Dexter is on, the 1950m suits and I am expecting a big run from him also."
Posted: Thu 10 Oct 2013