Cranbourne takes out Australian debut
By Adam Hamilton
Caretaker trainer David Aiken thinks former Kiwi pacer Cranbourne could “pinch” a really big win before he moves to the US.
Aiken was thrilled with the six-year-old’s narrow but impressive first-up win in Australia in last night’s $75,000 Group 2 Shepparton Gold Cup (2690m).
Cranbourne, who won 12 of his 42 runs in NZ, came through the win so well he will definitely back up in the Group 1 Ballarat Cup next Saturday night.
“He didn’t go much quicker than he would have in a trial and he seems great this morning. He’ll go to Ballarat and then hopefully on to the Hunter Cup two weeks later,” Aiken said.
“I really like the horse and he’ll just keep improving off what he did last night.
“It’s the first time Nathan (Jack) has driven him and he was impressed, too.”
Cranbourne effectively won the race when Jack whooshed him out at the start to cross favourite and main danger, Inter Dominion winner I Cast No Shadow.
Jack dictated terms in front then ripped home in 54.5 and 26.6sec and Cranbourne held-off I Cast No Shadow to win by a half-neck in a steady 1min59.5sec mile rate.
“It was really just a dash at the start then an 800m sprint home,” Aiken said.
“It was an easy run in many ways and an ideal way to kick things off.”
Aiken bought Cranbourne for friend and wealthy US owner Steve Finkelstein and the gelding is booked on a flight to the US on March 24.
“The timing works well. It gives us a chance to chase the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile before he flies out,” Aiken said.
“Last night’s win showed he's up to these horses. Barrier draws are going to be very important.
“If he has a bit of luck and gets some good draws, he might be able to pinch one of the big ones before he heads off.
“The pressure is off a bit now. He’s paid for his airfare (to the US) with the first-up win and it looks like we’ve found a nice horse for Steve.”
I Cast No Shadow was good in second spot at his first run since winning the Inter Dominion final on December 10.
He and stablemates Major Meister and Majestic Cruiser will also go to the Ballarat Cup.
It will be a fantastic race when you also throw in dual NZ Cup winner Copy That, Victoria Cup hero Rock N Roll Doo and emerging Kiwi star Old Town Road.