Day At The Track

Improvement needed for Franco Christiano

08:55 AM 25 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Franco Cristiano.jpg
Franco Cristiano
Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

Robbie Burns and Little Rascal will progress on to next month’s Group 1 $250,000 Auckland Cup, but the future is not so rosy for one Robert Dunn’s other stable stars.

Franco Cristiano, who has won more than 57 per cent of his races, has disappointed the Canterbury and Auckland trainer.

“He will go to the trials again on Saturday and hopefully he will perform a little bit better than what he has this time in. His programme will be decided after we have a look at him go around on the weekend,” Dunn said.

Franco Cristiano finished fifth of six at his first Workout back since finishing eighth, fifth and third in a luckless Australian campaign in August.

He was then an eight-length third, of three, behind Hug The Wind and Strike The Gold at his second Workout at Pukekohe last Saturday.

“I think he has been a little foot-sore with all the wet weather we have had. I have put flip flops on and he seems a lot happier. Hopefully there will be plenty of good races for him up north, especially during the Auckland Cup Carnival,” Dunn said.

“If not the beach back home beckons for him,” he added.

The 4-year-old Bettor’s Delight gelding resumed from seven-and-a-half months on the sideline with a hairline fracture of the pastern in June. He then won his next four races before finishing third behind Waikiki Beach and Menin Gate in a $17,000 pace at Melton’s Tabcorp Park.

Franco Cristiano has now raced 14 times for eight wins and three thirds. His stake earnings currently sit at $58,514.

Meanwhile Dunn believes Friday’s favourite for the feature pace at Alexandra Park – Robbie Burns is progressing nicely towards the Auckland Cup.

“It will be interesting to see how he goes in the lead-up races but he’s a very good stayer and seems to be over his problems. The two miles will suit him down to the ground.

“He will be a whole new racehorse in six months. I think the way he’s progressing he will be a definite New Zealand Cup starter in just under 12 months,” Dunn said.

Dunn has so far trained 21 winners ($261,270) from 147 starters this season. He is currently third on the national training premiership behind Greg & Nina Hope (27) Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen (25).

His personal best season came last year when he trained 121 winners ($1.06 million) and finished second 10 wins behind the All Stars pair.

All-up Dunn has now trained 1,209 winners from 8,232 starters since 1978. He’s also placed 1,865 times and netted $12.6 million in career stakes for a lifetime UDR strike-rate of 0.2399.

“I’m looking forward to the Auckland Cup Carnival. We will have several horses lining up throughout December,” Dunn said.

Duane Ranger

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