Franco Nelson tops a great day for stable
As is usual, Ashburton Flying Stakes Day lived up to its billing as one of the top programmes on the harness racing calendar. For the Robert Dunn Trotting Stable, it was big smiles all round after a number of top efforts on the track.
After a top trial last week on the course, hopes were high for a top run by Franco Nelson in the last of the day. After beginning well, he was well situated in the running before being launched to the top by John at the 1200m. While attracting a fair bit of pressure from All Star Man over the last 1000m, last year's Sires Stakes winner dug in for the fight today getting home by a nose from a very game All Star Man. Owned by Clive and Rona McKay, Franco Nelson has always been held in the highest regard. His overall record of 10 wins from 17 starts, is testament to the type of horse this guy is. It will be exciting to see him go around again over cup week.
Sleepy Tripp has surely cemented a spot for himself in this year's running of the New Zealand Cup after a magnificent run for 3rd in the day's feature. The one-time barrier rogue absolutely flew the tapes today and led after 200m. John ensured that this was going to be a true run staying test as the 1st 800m sectional came up in 57.4. He was happy to take a breather, as Ricky May and Terror To Love stormed around to the lead. From there, that champion pair dominated the race from the top. John was able to secure the passing run from the 200m and for a moment looked likely to run second only to be denied late as Franco Ledger came with one of his barnstorming finishes.
Connections were clearly delighted with the performance and now look forward positively to the 2013 edition of the cup. John was stoked with the run mindful of the fast early sectionals they recorded. "Yea he's gone super mate. We've just gone a bit too fast early on and that has buggared him up the last bit. He's stuck on really well though considering what he's done."
The race was not without its share of drama. Raging favourite for the cup Christen Me, galloped his way out of the contest after 400m, while Fly Like An Eagle broke a rein at a similar point and was eventually retired from the race. Meanwhile, for the Terror To Love camp, it was statement day and a NZ Record to boot, with the horse taking 0.2 second off Flashing Red's old mark.
Sleepy Tripp looks in superb order before today's big race
Our other cup entrant in Mach Banner, went a super race off a long mark in the 5 plus wins handicap won by Glencoe VC. Hampered early on by breakers, as he looked to make up his 30m handicap, the horse was set a huge task, as a breakneck speed was set up front. In what was essentially a "survival of the fittest," Mach Banner ground home in fine style to be beaten into 4th just 2 lengths off Glencoe VC who was 1st up for the Hope stable. What really puts this run into perspective is Mach Banner's time - 2.55.3 - which would have seen him place 2nd in the Group 2 feature and saw him just 0.4 seconds off Terror To Love's new mark. He is clearly in the sort of form that John and Robert hope will see him and his stablemate Sleepy Tripp both competitive in the big go in a fortnight.
Phantom Grin went another top run for Dexter, doing everything right and closing strongly late to be beaten just under one length. He continues to make good strides in the right direction.
Other performances from stable runners today:
Race 2 - Crackaheiny - A phenomenal run for 2nd. Settled back from draw and was still last at the 500m. The leaders have run home in 800m 56.5, 400m 27.1, so what has he done! Beaten by a neck and looks in for a huge campaign. Very exciting horse.
Race 6 - Donegal's Guest - Another pleasing run. Settled 3 back on inner, was denied racing room until the 150m mark and has gone down narrowly to two top 3yr olds in Tiger Tara and Cyclone Prince, recording 1.56.6. He continues to make real progress.
Race 9 - Hurricane Bromac - Stepped well and given a soft run on inside. Started to struggle when hot pace went on from 800m.
Posted: Mon 28 Oct 2013