Franco Norton set for retirement

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

A speed machine and stable favourite, Franco Norton looks to have run his last race.

"We are 99.9 per cent sure he'll be retired," says trainer Steven McRae.

Bred and raced by Spreydon Lodge, Franco Norton has won 10 races from 24 starts, and just over $95,000 in stakes.

"It's frustrating because we know just how good he is."

Problems surfaced with the five-year-old gelding after his fast finishing second to Ohoka Connor in last weekend's Methven Four Square Supermarket Green Mile. The problem is with a front deep flexor tendon.

"He's not lame or anything but there is swelling in there."

The five-year-old son of A Rocknroll Dance has had a constant battle with injuries throughout his career.

"Usually it's the back legs that are the problem and we didn't see this one coming," says McRae.

He was due to start in tomorrow's Geraldine Cup, before being scratched.

"The last seven or eight races he's been going as well as ever .. we thought he was going to have even bigger 12 months and was a (New Zealand) Cup horse in the making."

His 10th and last career win came in the Winton Cup on April 13 when he made a great start off his 25m backmark to lead. He then reeled off a last 800 in 54.2 to beat One Change and Cya Art.

As for his post racing life Franco Norton will remain at Spreydon Lodge's West Melton property just outside Christchurch in the meantime.

"He's the stable pet and just loves attention and lots of pats," says McRae, "we will take our time to find the right home for him."

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