News

Hannon Memorial to Titan Banner

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Titan Banner continued his excellent start to the season with a slick win in the Group Three $25,000 Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on Sunday.

In doing so he became the first Otago-trained horse to win the time-honoured race since Enterprise won it for Pat Heffernan in 1984.

It was a plum Dexter Dunn drive that got the winner home – the pair started well and soon dropped to the trail behind Seel The Deal, where they remained until the home straight.

The official last half of 54.9secs was testament to the speed at which the high-calibre field rushed home, and it also made the effort of runner-up New Years Jay, the winner’s stablemate, all the more meritorious.

She was last of the six-horse bunch at the quarter pole and flashed down the outer to run second, running her last half in better than 54secs for Jonny Cox.

Graeme Anderson, who trains both Titan Banner and New Years Jay, was naturally thrilled with the result.

“Both horses had been set for the race so I’m happy with how things have panned out.

“They had a trip away to Christchurch last week and raced in testing conditions, so had quiet weeks before today’s race.

“Titan Banner has gotten better and better with every run this time in and now he’s where I want him.

“His coat is starting to change and today he was great - Dexter said he was only getting warmed up in the last 50 yards.

“He’s not an explosive type but he can go good fractions off a sit if he’s on the fresh side.”

The main target for Titan Banner will be returning to the $800,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington in a tick over seven weeks’ time, a race which he ran third in last year.

He did so from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable, but this year, with that pair having six of the remaining 20 still nominated, that won’t be the case.

“I’ll keep him now; there’s no point in sending him to them when they’ve got six in it already.

“So he’ll just stay at home with me until the Cup.”

Just where he takes Titan Banner between now and then is something Anderson will consider in the next 48 hours.

“I’m really happy with where he is at and the key is to probably keep him on the fresh side.

“He had a quiet week this week and he was a bit sharper, so that will be the plan going forward.

“There are only a few options for him, and I’m not that keen on going to Kaikoura (October 30) because it’s a long way from Dunedin.

“We will probably look to give him one more start, maybe two if we can space them right.

“We’ll just take him along nice and quietly now as he’s fit.”

New Years Jay is a different kettle of fish all together.

“The track was a bit heavy for her last week, but she still ran fourth behind three good horses.

“She’s a rating 95 and the new system doesn’t really suit her, which is a shame, and I’m not really sure where to go with her now.

“She’s about to have a week off as her owners are trying to put her in foal again.

“After that, I’ll just try and find a suitable race for her that avoids the better horses.”

Seel The Deal was good running third for Greg and Nina Hope, in what was just his second start in 11 months.

Imola put in a stellar effort to run fourth after missing away and having to sit parked for the last lap.

“I’m very happy with how he went, but not that happy with the manners,” said his trainer/driver Gavin Smith.

“To fight it out like he did was very, very encouraging and it makes me think he might actually measure up to that grade.”

Alta Ronaldo took no serious part in the race after badly botching the start for John Dunn.

Titan Banner’s win was the middle leg of a driving treble on the day for Dunn while Matty Williamson also drove three winners earlier on the card.