Top pacer Franco Emirate has been retired after suffering from a reoccurring hind leg injury.
“The vets only gave him a 50/50 chance of making it back to the races, so we always knew that we were facing an uphill battle,” said trainer-driver Jim Curtin. “We could have carried on, but he is not a 100%, and we didn’t want to break him down completely,” he explained.
““He is definitely the best pacer I have ever trained and I will be forever grateful for what he achieved,” he added.
Franco Emirate, who was an expensive purchase out of the stable of Steven McRae after winning his debut at Gore, won 14 of his 33 starts. He also placed on 11 occasions for stakes of $334,449.
“Paul Davies put me on to the horse and after I trialled him at Addington I just couldn’t say no,” said Curtin. “I think he run his last quarter in sub 26 seconds that day.”
Nicknamed ‘The Lump’ by commentator Mark McNamara, much to the disgust of Curtin’s wife Sandi, Franco Emirate stands at 17 hands high.
Curtin said that Franco Emirate’s will to win and huge heart were two of his biggest attributes.
“Corrin Murfitt (Vet) took his heart score for us and it is one of the biggest they have on record.”
“He also has good manners and his fair share of speed. He really was the all round package.”
When asked if there was a race of Franco Emirate’s that stood out above the rest of them, Curtin said that there were two of them.
“The day that Craig Thornley drove him at Oamaru and he lost about 150 metres and still won. That was incredible.”
“And of course his win in the 4YO Harness Jewels was pretty special also,” he added.
Franco Emirate is owned by Russel Nieper, who has raced numerous horses with Curtin over the years.
“Russel has been a big supporter of mine over the years so it was great to race a very good horse with him,” concluded Curtin
*Attached are the videos of Fraco Emirate's wins at Oamaru and in 4YO Harness Jewels.
By Mitchell Robertson