Captain Dolmio and Franco Nelson set for big runs in Easter Cup

Captain Dolmio and Franco Nelson set for big runs in Easter Cup

While this year's Easter Cup may be a small field numerically, you cannot fault the class of those involved in this year's contest. While the Purdon/Rasmussen trained Heaven Rocks will start a dominating favourite in the race, a strong case can be made for most other runners in the race with Captain Dolmio and Franco Nelson at the forefront of those discussions.

It was super to see Franco Nelson (in picture) back at Addington last Friday and he didn't disappoint his backers. Starting off what appeared a prohibitive 45m back mark in the race, he made his trademark good beginning to get past a few early on, went forward at the 1200m, led at the 900m and then held on tenaciously in what proved to be a new New Zealand record for the 2600m stand of 3.10.7. The stable were stoked with the run and John always felt that whatever he did in that race, would tighten him up for tonight.

Thought to have a huge chance in Lazarus' New Zealand Cup back in November, Franco Nelson had no luck in that race, drawing the second line and then having little luck in the running, finally finishing up in 6th place. After the New Zealand Cup, he then headed to Perth where again he had little go his way finishing an unlucky 5th in Smolda's Inter-Dominion final.

After arriving back at Woodend Beach he was given a good chance to freshen up and has come back in super condition. He is a class act as his career record - 62 starts, 18 wins, nine seconds and 11 thirds for $749,577 - shows. He thrives when back at the beach, is a great stayer and off just a 10m handicap look for him to be right in the early rush for positions tonight. If things do go his way, Franco Nelson can be adding tonight's Group One feature to his resume.

Captain Dolmio is the little bloke with the big ticker and gives the stable another great winning chance in the race. He has had another great season and has been the big improver amongst the top class ranks this season. He has had just the nine starts this season and has yet to finish out of the top three, giving his owners the Captain Dolmio syndicate, plenty to cheer about.

The saying "tough as old boots" certainly applies to this fella and if he is able to occupy his favoured frontrunning spot this evening all others in the race will know that their resolve and staying prowess will be tested. Captain Dolmio has had just the two starts over the 3200m trip, winning the Tuapeka Cup in a sedate 4.13 back in October, before running the bravest of seconds behind Classie Brigade in the Invercargill Cup at the end of January in what remains the fastest two miles ever run outside of Addington.

At his last start, Captain Dolmio was a fast finishing third behind Lazarus in the Superstars for the four and five year olds, in a race run in New Zealand record time for the 1950m. That race was never really his go and the stand start tonight, where he will be partnered by southern reinsman Nathan Williamson is much more up his alley. He is a super chance in the race from his frontline draw.

Heaven Rocks will start a deserved favourite in the race and on his best manners and form is the one that they all have to beat. However, he has shown chinks in his armour before and is beatable. His stablemate Piccadilly Princess is a top class mare and has won at the top level against her own sex on both sides of the Tasman. She has only had the one stand start, but appears a sensible horse and will be another big chance.

The chances in the race do not stop there. Classie Brigade has had a super season and has a stunning 3.53.5 winning time to his name over the two miles. There won't be many stopping him if he can reproduce that sort of effort here. Titan Banner has also had a great year and is another proven performer over the 3200m. Then there is Maxim, the top class two and three year old of his time who footed it with the best of his age including Tiger Tara and Locharburn. After an extended time on the sidelines, he returned to racing just three months ago after an absence of nearly three years. Second first up, he has then produced three very good winning runs since then and it is great to see him back and competing at this level again.

Put simply, this year's Easter Cup looks sure to be a super race and in Franco Nelson and Captain Dolmio, the stable have two huge chances at gaining the major spoils.

Posted: Sat 15 Apr 2017