Breeders Crown target for Franco Cristiano
He may have had seven months away from the track, but going by last night's win, Franco Cristiano is fast making up for lost time.
While a hot favourite for his assignment, against a nice field of three year old and older pacers, Franco Cristiano was dragged back to last early by driver John Dunn. While he enjoyed a nice tow into it down the backstraight, following Innocent Artist, that runner was struggling to improve once the pace was poured on from the 600m. Second favourite G I Joe appeared to be travelling well in the breeze at the 400m and looked all over the winner as Franco Cristiano was winding into his run albeit six lengths off the leaders. While G I Joe kicked clear at the 200m, Franco Cristiano coninued to sustain a long run, levelling up at the 100m, before going to the line a narrow but convincing winner by a neck in 2.21.9 on a cold damp night. The last 800m was run in 56.7 and the last 400m in 27.3.
Driver John Dunn was suitably impressed after the race. "That was a great run alright. He had no right to get up and win considering where he came from."
"Going down the back he probably looked flat, but thats him, he just relaxes so well."
Dunn was met by a very happy group of owners after the race excited by the prospect that their superstar may still get a shot at the big-time before the season is out.
"We''ll be back for the Breeders Crown heat in a couple of weeks. I know that Heaven Rocks will likely be there, but I don't think that we will be far away. He definitely deserves his chance."
While a win in that heat will almost certainly see him head over the ditch to Australia, even if he gets beaten he may still go.
"He could still go over and run in the repercharge if need be and will have a great chance of making the final. But whatever we do we will be in the best interests if the horse. We think that he is pretty special."
A predicted good night for the Dunn stable three year olds was completed with wins by Freedom Fighter and Letspendanitetogetha.
Freedom Fighter, a Courage Under Fire three year old gelding, had the one start earlier in the season, running a nice second at Addington. After a potential sale to Australia fell through, he was put aside so that he could have some time to strengthen up. Going by the nature of last night's win, he has a bright future ahead, but it is not necessarily in New Zealand.
"There's been a fair bit of interest in him from Australia," said Ross Houghton after the race.
"He's a nice horse, but I suspect that it won't be long before he is sold."
While John was keen to drive the horse with a sit last night, a good front-line draw always made it likely that he would lead and be too strong and so it panned it. Freedom Fighter assumed the lead at the mile peg and while attended to his outside by second favourite Time Traveller, always looked to be travelling well. The challenges came wide on the turn, but John was always kidding with the $1.40 favourite that went to the line a winner by a length in 2.26.5 for the 1950m.
The third winner for the night was Letspendanitetogetha, a horse that is fast proving itself as one of the most genuine in the stable. While drawn well and expected to lead, Letspendanitetogetha was eased off the gate and ended up in a good spot three back on the outer. While a strong tempo was being set by pacemaker Courage To Live down the backstraight, John managed to manoeuvre onto the back of favourite On The Rantan that had been posted three wide. Hooked wide turning for home, he really stuck to his task down the straight, reeling in the leader Mighty American before coming away a convincing winner by one and a half lengths in a very respectable 2.22.8 for the 1950m on an off track. With the last 800m in 56.8 and the last 400m in 28.1, this was a nice effort as he had a bit of ground to make up.
"He's doing a great job," said John after the race. "He'll get better too when he strengthens up further."
Like stablemate Freedom Fighter Letspendanitetogetha has attracted some attention from accross the Tasman, but for now he will continue to race locally until the end of the current season.
Following tonight's meeting the stable have taken their total of winners to 111 for the season, just 12 wins behind the leaders, the Purdon/Rasmussen stable.
Posted: Fri 01 Jul 2016