Nelson set to take on the best in the West.

Nelson set to take on the best in the West.

An unlucky 6th at his last start in Lazarus' New Zealand Cup, Franco Nelson is now in Perth and is set to lock horn's with many of Australasia's best in this year's Inter-Dominion series starting this Friday night at Gloucester Park.

While there was a lot of confidence in the camp heading into this year's New Zealand Cup, luck in the running conspired against Franco Nelson who after being last at the 800m, launched a big run at the 700m, before looming wide at the 400m. However, just as he was getting into the race, Lazarus was firing the after burners up front making it impossible for those coming from behind. Franco Nelson peaked on his run over the last 200m eventually coming home in 6th placing.

There was still plenty to take out of the run and the decision was made to press on with the Inter-Dom campaign. The only problem was that Mitchell Kerr who does a lot of the work with the horse had copped a nasty ankle injury playing touch rugby, the night before the horse was to leave.

"It made things quite tough actually," said John. "We were very lucky that Aimee (sister-in-law) Edmonds was prepared to jump off the bench at the last minute."

"Aimee is a great horsewomen and for her to be able to go over there has made things so much easier for us."

Getting to Perth is not a straightforward operation and included stopovers along the way in both Sydney and Melbourne before finally getting to Perth.

"He copped the trip over pretty good," said John.

"The flying is actually a lot easier on them than the long float trips."

After arriving in Perth, Franco Nelson headed to his base, the stable of top trainers Greg and Skye Bond. He immediately took to his new surroundings. (see photo)

"You wouldn't even know he is away from home. He's settled in like a dream," said Aimee.

"Greg and Skye's place is beautiful and so well set up and has everything that we need there."

"We have been taking trips to the beach and I have been riding him bareback in the water. He just loves it."

"He is eating great and is bright in the eye," all great news ahead of this Friday's first round of heats.

While having to take time out of a busy life to go to Perth, it has been far from a chore for Aimee.

"I'm really lucky. The horse has just made things so easy. Nothing is hard with him and he is just such a beautiful horse."

The only real surprise ahead of Friday has been the booking of Dexter Dunn for this series as regular driver and co-trainer John Dunn steps aside.

"It was a pretty easy decision really," said John.

"Dexter is the best and has such a great record over in Australia in the big races."

Dexter is excited about combining again with Franco Nelson. The last time the pair were together was a winning performance in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in 2014. 

While Dexter is well known in Australian harness racing circles, he has only been to Perth once before, when combining with Bit Of A Legend in his quest for the Gold Nuggets in 2013.

"I don't know very much about Perth at all," said Dexter.

"Nelson should really suit that track though, especially if we can get some good draws."

The draws for round one of heats came out today, with Franco Nelson in Heat Three and having drawn barrier 5. The standout amongst his Australian opponents in the race is Hectorjayjay, who has copped an awkward barrier 8, while the well performed Bling It On draws well in barrier 2.

So for now it is all eyes on Friday night and round one of heats. Good luck to all of the people involved with Franco Nelson and here's to a great series.

Article by Mike Drury

Posted: Tue 22 Nov 2016