YEAR: 2012



Franco Ledger secured his place in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup with a barnstorming finish to cut Franco Emirate out of first in the Group 3 Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington last week.

Considering the competitive lead-up opportunities in Southland compared to those available in Canterbury, this was a cracking training effort by Hamish Hunter. The last horse to achieve a similar result for the province at this time of year was probably Giavanetto, for the late Murray Gray and driven by Jack Smolenski.
Franco Ledger had not raced since beating seven others at Invercargill on April 22, and his best effort from six previous starts at Addington was a third behind Gold Ace and Terror To Love in March over 2600m.

Hunter's previous Cup hope was Malaz, who ran fourth in 1986, 26 years ago. Like Franco Ledger, Malaz started his campaign by winning fresh-up at Addington in August, and followed that with three unplaced starts before the Cup. Hunter's brother Henderson was 27 when he won the Cup with Trusty Scot in 1978.

Standing starts have been Franco Emirate's achilles heel, but he was safe enough and looked the winner when he loomed up wide on the turn and hit the front soon after. Rangataua Ray was honest again, edging past the pacemaker Ohoka Texus who ran with his usual freedom in front until being swamped late. Stunin Cullen was in the bunch and fifth, leaving the impression that he will improve with every start.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 12Sep12

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