Cranbourne set to make Australian debut

By Adam Hamilton 

Former exciting Kiwi pacer Cranbourne starts the next chapter of his career in Saturday night’s Group 2 Shepparton Gold Cup.

But it’s only a short chapter with caretaker trainer David Aiken confirming the gelding will head to the US in March to continue his career.

Aiken may even make the trip across with Cranbourne, at least to settle him.

“I’m good friends with Steve Finkelstein. I bought the horse for him,” Aiken said.

“We go way back to the early 1990s when he sent me across Ultra Jet from the US to train and we had plenty of success with him over here.

“We’re not sure who will train the horse in the US as yet, but Steve’s said if I want to take him across, he’d love that. I’m keen to.”

Before then, Aiken is using Saturday night’s race to shape the next couple of months for Cranbourne in Australia.

It’s a good test, too. His rivals include Inter Dominion winner I Cast No Shadow, NZ Cup runner-up Majestic Cruiser and even Cranbourne’s own talented stablemate Max Delight.

But it’s I Cast No Shadow from gate two who justifiably dominates betting.

I Cast No Shadow has been $2.10 into $1.90 from gate two, while Cranbourne has also firmed from $6 into $4.60 from gate four. Majestic Cruiser is a $6.50 shot from outside the back row (gate 11).

Stable driver Cam Hart will stick with I Cast No Shadow, meaning trainer Jason Grimson has booked Kate Gath for Majestic Cruiser and David Moran from Sicario (gate seven).

Grimson is looking to continue his recent open-class dominance which has seen I Cast Now Shadow win the Inter Dominion final on December 10 and Major Meister snared the Cranbourne and Bendigo Cups since.

Aiken has booked top freelancer Nathan Jack to drive Cranbourne.

“I really like the horse,” Aiken said. “His work at home has been good and he went well at the trials (Shepparton) last week (Thursday).

“He’s nice and relaxed and just gives you the feel of a nice horse.

“It’s a good test this week and we’ll decide where he goes after this.

“If he happens to go really well, we could back him up in the (Group 1) Ballarat Cup a week later and then there’s the Hunter Cup.

“Whatever we do in the next few weeks, he’ll head to Sydney next month and do the rest of his racing there until he goes to the US.”

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