Long drought ends for two of the stable's best
While they may have both been away from the winners list for a long time, both Franco Nelson and Jag's Invasion are class racehorses and were well overdue for again experiencing that winning feeling. After convincing wins today, both have shown that they they deserve to be pointed at some of the big spring targets upcoming.
Usually a lightning beginner from the stand start, Franco Nelson was a bit scrambly away today, but some gun driving by John saw him nab the trail behind hotpot Tiger Tara. Tiger Tara was able to dominate affairs from the top throughout and after a moderate 1.18 lead time, he then got away with a soft half for the next 800m. It was always going to be a rush home from there and the big beneficiary always looked to be Franco Nelson who was travelling beautifully in the trail. Attended strongly by Cullect A Guinness to his outside from the 700m, Tiger Tara upped the speed, putting in a 27.4 400m sectional down the back. Eyeballed by that runner from the 400m, Tiger Tara still looked to be travelling well turning for home, but as soon as the passing lane came, John and Franco Nelson burst through, eventually going on to win by three quarters of a length in 3.17.6 for the 2600m.
Remarkably for a horse that was just beaten in Adore Me's NZ Cup of 2014, Franco Nelson had been winless since his jewels win at Cambridge in May 2014.
"Its great to get him back to close to where he was," said John.
"He's still very burly in condition too, so I expect that there is further improvement in him yet."
John put's a lot of the improvement this season down to an operation a few months ago that saw a bone chip removed from the horse's fetlock.
"It wasn't a cheap operation, but at the moment anyway, its been worth every dollar that we spent."
John was also impressed by the run of Cullect A Guinness that kicked strongly in the straight to hold third.
"Yea he's gone super hasn't he. He's the only one in the race to do any work and to kick on like he has on the back of that very fast last half has been a great effort."
While initially looking to steer clear of the New Brighton Cup at Group Three level on September 23, John is now thinking that both horses may well contest that race also.
"Its not like they have been having gutbuster runs. Nelson has only really had to sprint home in his two starts after following the speed, so we might have to look at that race after all."
A couple of races later and it was the turn of now nine year old trotter in Jag's Invasion, to also break a long run of outs. The Armbro Invasion gelding recorded his last win at Addington in October 2014, nearly two years ago. He was transferred to the Woodend Beach stable earlier this year, by former trainer Nathan Williamson, who thought that a beach preparation would best suit the trotter that has long been plagued by unsoundness.
Prepared for much of his earlier career by Phil Williamson at Oamaru, today's win was Jag's Invasion's 10th from 51 starts and takes his stake-earnings to over $120,000.
He stepped well from his 40m handicap today, but with a stern pace being set up front by those off lesser marks, it was not easy to even get into the race. However, after following Ottawa into the race with just over a lap to go, Jag's Invasion strode to the lead at the 800m and after Ottawa broke, soon put what turned out to be a winning break on the field. Three lengths clear at the 400m, the margin had reduced quickly turning for home as first Monty Python and then The Silver Fox launched strong runs. However, Jag's Invasion kept finding in the run to the line, holding on by three quarters of a length in a smart 3.18.3 for the 2600m stand, a run that really impressed John.
"He would have had every right to chuck it in really. He had to chase really hard of the 40m to get into the race and then we got left in front a fair way out. It was good to see him really put in over that last bit."
The Dominion Handicap on Show Day remains the main target at this stage for Jag's Invasion.
Posted: Sun 11 Sep 2016