Franco Ledger today bounced back from a seemingly disappointing fresh-up effort in the Maurice Holmes Vase to claim victory in the $25,000 Group 3 Hannon Memorial at Oamaru.
But the win did not surprise his Ryal Bush based trainer Hamish Hunter one little bit.
“I was actually quite happy with his fresh-up run. He was only two lengths from the winner and he was never going to be as forward as he was last year as his preparation was much shorter,” said Hunter.
“If anything I expect him to improve further off today’s run.”
“He is a year older now as well so he may just take a bit more work,” he added.
Franco Ledger settled three back on the outside for inform driver Colin De Filippi, before unleashing a paralysing sprint to overhaul a gutsy Four Starzzz Flash.
Mach Banner also came home very strongly to finish into third, while Choise Achiever was much improved in fourth.
Of that beaten brigade, both Highview Tommy and favourite Mah Sish were fractionally disappointing by their very high standards.
Franco Ledger stopped the clock at 3-16.7 for the 2600m journey. The final sectionals were recorded in a sizzling 54.3 and 26.4 meaning it is likely that the Falcon Seelster speedster broke 54 seconds for his final 800 metres.
Hunter said it is now likely that De Filippi will stay on to drive Franco Ledger until atleast after the New Zealand Cup.
By winning today, Franco Ledger has become just the fifth horse to win two Hannon Memorials and the third to win two in concession. He has also guaranteed himself a spot in the New Zealand Cup on November 13.
The other horses that have won the race twice are: Johnny Globe (1954, 1954), Palestine (1976, 1977), Idolmite (1980, 1981) and Blossom Lady (1990, 1993) – Not a bad list to have your name beside.
The What Ever Syndicate, who you often hear before see, were once again out in full force to support their pride and joy.
Hunter said he was unsure where he would head to with his stable star next.
“I will just see how he comes through today’s run. Last year I left him until the Ashburton Flying Stakes but I may race him sooner this year.”
Franco Leger is currently paying $13 to win and $3.80 to place in the Futures market for the NZ Cup.
By Mitchell Robertson