The brilliant, but enigmatic Alta Orlando on track for Easter Cup.

The brilliant, but enigmatic Alta Orlando on track for Easter Cup.

Comparatively lightly raced as a six year old, Alta Orlando has had what can best be described as a troubled race career. Originally with the Purdon and Rasmussen barn for his two and three year old racing, he proved a star juvenile, but with a bag of tricks. However, it was injury that looked set to curtail his career following his third placing behind Have Faith In Me in the Sires Stakes of 2014. His win on Friday at Addington was the 7th of his 33 start career.

Following his Sires Stakes placing on Cup Day 2014, it was nearly two years to the day before he would again return to the racetrack, this time as part of the Robert Dunn stable. It was at just start two of his comeback at Timaru that he would return to the winners circle. However, since then, there was only one further win in the Nelson Summer Cup of 2017, as well as a swag of placings against some top company. Two things that he has never lost, even as a six year old, are his big motor and his enigmatic qualities. It was only last week at Addington that the naughty Alta Orlando was on show, delaying his 1950m assignment, before putting in a big run for second behind Funatthebeach.

Just a week later and again over the 1950m, Alta Orlando was on his very best behaviour, as he needed to be against a smart line-up. From his unruly start spot he went back early and at the 1200m was spotting leader A G's White Socks up to eight lengths. At the 450m mark, he was still last and six lengths off the lead as John let him loose with his run. He still had a couple of lengths to make up on favourite More The Better that had hit the lead at the 200m, but really got into his work to pick up that runner at the 50m, before going on to a three quarter length win.

Driver John Dunn was clearly upbeat about the manner of the horse's victory and had a keen eye on the 3200m Easter Cup next Saturday. He looks set to start one of the favourites for that race, with More The Better still likely to start a warm favourite after sitting parked on Friday and fighting hard for his placing.

Earlier in the night and it was Bonnie Highlander that continued her very promising career, with her third win of the season, the 4th of her 16 start career. The first 200m has often been the nervous point of the race for her, but as she showed on Friday, if she can navigate through that stage successfully she is a hard horse to beat. On this occasion she stepped like a toff and was in front with two laps to go. With a string of breakers in the early part of the race, Bonnie Highlander led a group of four throughout. She always looked to travel a treat and on turning for home, there was only one possible threat, that being the trailling horse McLovin. While that runner came home strongly up the passing lane, Bonnie Highlander always looked to have things in safe keeping, holding on by half a length.

Friday's win takes her to over $36,000 in stake-earnings and she looks like a trotter that will continue to go through the grades.

The third and final win of the evening came with Born To Run in the last. The former southerner had looked really smart in winning two of his first four starts for trainer Nathan Williamson. Sent to Canterbury at the end of January, Born To Run had placed in one of his three starts. Well supported on the tote on Friday, Born To Run was able to pozzie up well three back on the markers on what was a strong pace. Turning for home and momentarily held up, he was angled off the markers with his run. Two lengths in arrears of leader Governor's Bay at the 200m, he really let down for driver Matt Purvis, reeling in a very game Governor's Bay just short of the post and going on for a narrow but convincing win by a head.

His third win on Friday sees his stake-earnings go to over $25,000 from just the nine race starts. He is an exciting three year old and should continue to progress through the classes.

Posted: Sun 25 Mar 2018