News & Events

Hunter warns punters to go easy on Franco Ledger

By Michael Guerin

Hamish Hunter knows life is about to get a lot more serious for Franco Ledger. And he warns punters not to go in too hard with the Southland star in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday.

Franco Ledger is one of the lucky few guaranteed a start in the New Zealand Cup on November 13 after he automatically qualified by winning the first open class race of the season at Addington. He showed that was no fluke when coming from a tricky position to gun down Franco Emirate in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru just over a week later, seeing him shorten dramatically in Cup markets. But as conservative as you would expect from a born and bred Southlander, trainer-driver Hunter is not getting carried away.

“We go up a level on Monday, competition-wise,” Hunter told hrnz.co.nz

“Already this season  he has exceeded my and the owners expectations and regardless of what happens from now on we are going to enjoy the ride.

“But you also have to be realistic. The field he meets on Monday contains most of the best pacers in the country and that is a step up for us.”

That coupled with the fact Franco Ledger was given a short let-up after his Oamaru win has Hunter going into Monday cautious.

“This is his first run back after a very short break and he is a little fresher than he would usually be for a race like this because we are aiming at the Cup.

“So I think it would be a very tough race for us to win and if he runs in the first five or six then we will be happy.”

After Ashburton, Hunter plans to take Franco Ledger to the cup trial at Addington, meaning he will spend the last week leading up to the great race at Colin and Julie De Filippi’s stables in Canterbury.

So can Franco Ledger win on Monday?

“To be honest he might be a little short of race fitness. But he will be better for this and all systems go for the Cup.”