Day At The Track

Dunn on the charge

11:16 PM 28 Jun 2016 NZST
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Franco Christiano.jpg
Franco Christiano and Mitchell Kerr in fast work at Woodend
Vinnie Neumann

It’s a case of so far, so good for exciting 3-year-old pacer Franco Cristiano. Everything has gone to plan since the Robert Dunn trained son of Bettor’s Delight impressed in his first race day appearance in over seven months when winning at Blenheim Harness Racing Club on Friday.

The only fly in the ointment came on Sunday when the meeting was abandoned due to surface flooding on the track taking the opportunity for two quick wins away from his connections.

Dunn’s stable vet, Sam Taylor gave the gelding a pass with flying colours after a full examination yesterday upon his return to Woodend Beach and it’s now all systems go as they push toward a race at Addington on Thursday night.

“It’s certainly great to have him back,” Robert said from Auckland yesterday.

“You always worry about horses who have had injuries like he has but it would appear that the time off might have helped him.

“That’s the best I think he’s raced on Friday. He’s never going to be perfect, but it’s a lot better than what he was like.

“I still wonder if a lot of his problems were because of the injury, something wasn’t right with him and we can maybe now pinpoint it to the hairline fracture in his pastern.”

The plan going forward very much depends on the outcome of Thursday night where Franco Cristiano takes on a stronger field than he raced on Friday.

The line up includes Hypervelocity, GI Joe and Innocent Artist so he will need to be on top of his game.

“We won’t make any firm plans until after Thursday probably, but it’s pretty likely he will head to the Breeders Crown heat after that.

“And that in itself will be a good measuring stick for where we are at because Heaven Rocks will be there as well and from what I have seen of him, he’s a pretty special horse.”

That heat for the 3-year-old colts and geldings is set down July 15.

The abandonment of Sunday’s meeting won’t have helped Dunn’s chances of pegging back Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen in the trainers’ premiership.

They are now 14 wins behind and were expecting a couple more to be added on Sunday.

“We needed a real good day on Sunday to bring us right back into it I think.

“And we could have had one of those days but that’s racing.

“It’s going to take something special now I think, but we aren’t out of it. Mark and Natalie will race horses over the next few weeks with Breeders Crown heats and the like, but we’ve got numbers around the place and the plan is to keep pushing toward them and see what happens.”

Dunn has 19 horses engaged at meetings between Addington, Forbury and Auckland early on in this week’s racing with a further nine nominated for the Timaru meeting on Sunday.

The All Stars in contrast have two runners; GI Joe and Superfecta at Addington and then The Manipulator at Timaru.

Matt Markham

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