Franco Marek faces big task fresh up
By Jonny Turner
Franco Marek has a big reputation that could increase tenfold with victory in the Timaru Summer Cup on Saturday.
The towering pacer returns to racing for the first time since May when stepping out on a big day of racing at Phar Lap Raceway for trainer Greg Manson and driver John Morrison.
Whether he is good enough to win is probably not the biggest question punters must ask themselves if they are going to side with Franco Marek.
Highly impressive in his short career, fitness is the big question to address as the big striding pacer meets a talented line up filled with horses who have had plenty of hard racing recently.
John Morrison is sure of one thing ahead of Franco Marek’s return – if the race pans out in the pacer’s favour, he can definitely win.
“He is good enough ability-wise.”
“It is a big ask with it being his first run back, his trials haven’t been anywhere near race day speed.”
“The big thing will be getting away.”
“Hopefully he can be thereabouts.”
With a trial and two workouts to prepare, Franco Marek has a solid base to work off in his fresh-up assignment.
Another certainty heading into his return is that the pacer is bigger and stronger following his winter spell.
“He is bigger and stronger than last time in, his trials have been good,” Morrison said.
“He has probably got a few things to learn but the ability is definitely there.”
“In his last trial, he really felt like he had sharpened up a lot more, so he is going to be a horse to follow over summer.”
Franco Marek starts from the 10m mark in the Timaru Summer Cup, alongside his stablemate Copperhead Road.
The Greg Manson trained pairing get a 20m head-start on the early favourite, Allamericanlover.
The Steve and Amanda Telfer trained mare drops significantly in class after running an unlucky fourth in the Kaikoura Cup.
The scratchings of open-class stars Smokin Bandar and Matua Tana have blown the George Shand Memorial Trot wide open.
Similarly to Franco Marek, whether he is talented enough to win isn’t the big question punters must consider when assessing Hot To Trot’s chances in the feature trot.
The three-year-old set up a record-breaking speed when running second in the Hambletonian Classic last month.
But the trotter was unable to back up that effort when missing away on Show Day at Addington.
On Saturday, Hot To Trot will attempt to get his hoof in the till for the first time in six standing start attempts when he lines up beside Sioux Princess, also from the Mark Jones stable.