Day At The Track

Nelson continues his march towards Addington

01:01 PM 01 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Franco Nelson, Harness racing
Franco Nelson

Maybe there is a resistance to the All Stars New Zealand Trotting Cup stranglehold after all.

Just when it looked like there was no one capable of stopping the onslaught of Lazarus, Have Faith In Me and Smolda in next Tuesday’s feature - Franco Nelson went next level on it and announced himself as more than just an outside chance of upsetting the blue and silver army in seven days time.

His victory seaside at Kaikoura yesterday was nothing but encouraging with a view next week and was a continuation of the wonderful built up he’s been given by his trainer Robert Dunn and his son, John.

And the best part of all?

Neither Johnny nor Franco Nelson were supposed to be there yesterday.

The Kaikoura Cup was never seriously on the radar until a couple of weeks ago for Franco Nelson, but a late change in plans saw him head to South Bay while Dunn was laid up on Saturday and looking very unlikely to drive.

“I did something to my back up in Auckland on Friday night and it was pretty sore,” Dunn said.

“Luckily I had a bit of help from some Kayla Marshall and Chris McGregor who did plenty of work on me on Saturday to try and get me right.”

If there was still any discomfort, Dunn didn’t show it and when Franco Nelson put a couple of lengths on Smolda at the top of the straight, he would have been lucky to feel anything at all.

“That was super, he just loved being out there and rolling along, he’s really in the zone.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the team at home for the way his going, especially Mitchell Kerr who has down a power of work with him.

“We’re lucky to have good staff.”

With his usual exemplary stand start manners Franco Nelson was able to find the front from his outside barrier draw and with a solid tempo being set by Dunn he ran his rivals into the dirt in a very slick 2:55.6 - just 0.1 seconds outside Sushi Sushi’s race record.

Smolda was brave, albeit a little below his best, in running second after sitting parked and will improve immensely after missing some work due to his irregular bloods following his Methven win.

The North Island’s sole Cup contender, No Doctor Needed, showed he’s no forlorn hope of sneaking a minor placing next week with a bold effort for third - a complete turn around on the majority of his lead up form in Auckland.

“It was nice to not have to be the one who made sure the speed was true,” driver Scott Phelan said.

“He’s gone great today, I’m rapt with the performance, now we just need a good draw next week.”

Mossdale Conner was again solid, without being brilliant in fourth after securing a great trip in the trail throughout.

All still isn’t well in the Tiger Tara camp either.

He was beyond disappointing after being slow away and his performance left Gerard O’Reilly, Geoff Dunn and his owners Bob and Jennifer Sandford and John Gould shaking their heads.

“We’re not sure what to make of it,” Bob Sandford said.

“Physically there is nothing wrong with the horse. He has always raced better when he’s been up on the speed though.

“We will press on to the Cup at this stage and hope for the best.

“We’ve come too far now to back out.”

Australian raider, Messini, was also on the disappointing list, finishing eighth, beaten over 11 lengths leaving his trainer Brent Lilley with a few issues to iron out in the next seven days.

 

Matt Markham

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