Franco Nandor’s Redcliffe romp a timely treat for Ryan Fox preparing to tee off in Scotland
Franco Nandor’s easy win at Redcliffe in Queensland tonight came just in time to give part owner Ryan Fox a psychological boost for the US$8 million Scottish Open.
Just a few hours before teeing off in the latest leg of the European tour at North Berwick, Fox awoke to news that the horse he was gifted a share in by Lincoln Farms’ owner John Street had hit an eagle in just his fifth start in the state.
“I’m very pleased to see Nandor win again,” Fox said after watching a replay of the race. “It looks like the move to race in Australia has been a good one.
“Hopefully I can channel some of his winning form onto the golf course in the next few weeks.”
Fox, who was given an all expenses paid 20% share in the blue blood after bagging the Wairakei Invitational at Taupo in 2020, is in even better form than Franco Nandor.
Last month he claimed three consecutive top-15 finishes on the European Tour, finishing 11th equal in the European Open in Hamburg, 14th equal in the Scandinavian Open in Sweden and 14th equal in the International Open in Munich.
And while he missed the cut in the Irish Open last weekend, he is in good touch and looking forward to his two biggest missions of the season - the US$11.5 million Open Championship at the Royal St George’s Golf Club in Kent, England starting Thursday before flying to Japan to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games.
Like Fox, Franco Nandor has the pedigree to be good. By Mach Three out of Nicaea Franco, a daughter of 2007-08 four-year-old mare of the year Nearea Franco, he cost $140,000 as a yearling.
John and Lynne Street took in four other partners in the horse, Denis Ebert, Steve MacDonald, Chris Prutton and Wayne Seebeck, hoping he would be a headliner but the gelding struggled, winning just twice at Auckland and Manawatu before being sent Al Barnes at Marburg.
Franco Nandor has gradually improved in the sunshine state, thriving with racing, and tonight’s run was his third in 10 days.
“He bounces back great after his races,” said Barnes. “I only jog him in between races, he doesn’t have any fast work, so he’s fresh, and wants to do it.”
Barnes, in the sulky himself again after two wins behind Brian Christopher, had no trouble finding the front tonight.
“He hung out a bit on the first turn and I nearly didn’t get him down to the fence but after that he was beautiful and relaxed in the run. And he responded really well when one came alongside him.”
Franco Nandor was travelling so well turning for home Barnes exploded clear by five lengths.
“As soon as I eased up in the straight he did too. Next time I’ll make him run through the line and maybe even pull the hood.”
Barnes’ casual style drew comment from his son Brendan, who finished runner-up on Get Ready To Rock.
“Brendan reckoned I have to stop trying to look like (the late) Gavin Lang who used to sit up and look pretty for the camera.”
The race, appropriately sponsored by local photographer Dan Costello, was Franco Nandor’s third win from 18 starts and took his career earnings to $25,745.
“It was a nice soft win. He was really suited to the smaller track today and I couldn’t really fault him.
“It’s been a super week, it doesn’t happen often. It’s nice to just have drives and to be competitive is even better.”
Barnes is now plotting to serve up another boost for Fox and his partners - as soon as Tuesday.
Before his win today Barnes entered Franco Nandor for a $9300 three-year-old maiden at Albion Park, twice the stake of tonight’s race, knowing he is still eligible because his two wins in New Zealand last year were classed as two-year-old wins with the Australian season not starting until January.
And Franco Nandor is sure to be a hot favourite in what is a weak looking field.
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Why Lincoln Farms had to buy lot 68 - his older brother Lincoln Lou is ready to rock
At last, Argyle gets the pole on Saturday night and Mark reckons it’s his big chance to salute
Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them
Friday night at Cambridge
Race 3: Lincoln Lou
“He’s a beautiful little horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him run. It’s hard to know how good he is, or how far he’ll go, but I guess we’ll find out on Friday. He’s the one to beat from the draw. If he doesn’t win, he won’t be far away.”
Race 5: Commander Lincoln
“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”
Race 8: Onyx Shard
“It’s two and a half months since she last raced, and she didn’t grow as much as I thought she would, but I’m expecting her to go a good race. Her last two trials have been good and she’s pulled up well.”
Race 8: Obadiah Dragon
“He’ll need a good trip from five but he’s not out of it. He went a good race last time at Cambridge and would be as equal a chance as Onxy Shard.”
Race 8: Beaudiene Rocknroll
“It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff with him until they let them go but he should step away this time. Zac (Butcher) said the gate went particularly slowly before that race and that’s why he got impatient. I thought he did well to recover for third. If he made the front, where he goes best, he’d be hard to beat.”
Race 9: Frisco Bay
“He’s a tidy horse and I’m expecting a big run. We’ve sorted the problem he had with his breathing last season and he’s right in the zone now after a second and a win at the workouts.”
Mark Dux’s comments
Saturday night at Albion Park
Race 5: Argyle
11.02pm NZ time
“It wouldn’t have mattered where he drew this week, he’s in the money, barring bad luck. He’s going terrific and he gets in so well at the ratings.”