YEAR: 2012



Owners Clive and Rona McKay had a speedy return on a horse they bought on Friday. On the morning of the premier meeting at Addington they paid Spreydon Lodge for a half-share in the 2-year-old Franco Nelson, and by the time the night was over, they had part of the payment back.

A colt by Christian Cullen, Franco Nelson had made a stunning debut a fortnight earlier, beating Border Control and Sir Tosti Mach. The Purdon-Payne pair were in again, badly off at the start, but the big danger was Ohoka Punter, off the pole, and Franco Nelson was drawn to follow him out. That's what happened, but instead of Okoka Punter doing enough to hold him out, he didn't.

Franco Nelson worked up the passing lane for Craig Thornley to win the Avon City Ford Welcome Stakes by half a head, and the McKays were $11,000 better off. The money should keep coming because driver Craig Thornley said he would only keep getting better. "It was a big training effort by Steven (McRae) to win a Group race at just his second start, but the horse is very good. Ohoka Punter got a length and a half on me turning in, but I didn't panic, and just chased him up."

While Thornley is uncertain what Franco Nelson would do next, he thinks it won't be very much in the short term. "I know Steven has the Breeders Stakes in mind. He is a very good trainer, and if he has a plan he sticks to it."

After leaving Franco Nereus, Fanco Noriega and four others before Franco Nelson and a filly by Live Or Die since, Notafella Franco was offered at a Spreydon Lodge dispersal sale a year ago in foal to Badlands Hanover where McRae, Andrew Stuart and Gareth Dixon bought her for $8000. The colt foal was born dead, and she was not served this season.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 4Apr2012

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