Sand Wave to take on Franco Norton in Cromwell's Fruit Bowl Handicap

by Jonny Turner

Contrasting formlines will collide when speedsters Sand Wave and Franco Norton go head-to-head in the Fruit Bowl Handicap at Cromwell on Sunday.

Nathan Williamson brings Sand Wave to Cromwell for just his second start on grass in a clash with the Steven McRae trained Franco Norton, who was a big winner on the first day of the two-day Cromwell meeting.

Two months ago, both pacers won on the Gore grass with Franco Norton taking out the Gore Cup while Sand Wave dealt to a lesser field of three-year-olds.

Franco Norton has kept up his outstanding record on turf since then with a Cromwell Cup victory and his win on Friday.

The pacer faces a new challenge when he returns to what is becoming his favourite track on Sunday.

And that is backing up after racing just two days prior.

McRae admits it is the only concern heading into Sunday’s event.

“That is the main worry for sure, it is definitely a worry for a horse like him.”

“For him, it is always the same thing, with his issues you are always worried about how he is going to come through his races.

“He hasn’t been on the short back up before but won’t know how he handles it until we give him a go.”

“He does seem to have come through Friday’s run really well at this stage.”

“But we won’t really know until he’s out on the track on Sunday, but we are just hoping he will be OK.”

Franco Norton missed away on Friday, which eventually only made his win more impressive.

McRae is hopeful the horse will be able to start much better for driver Craig Thornley on Sunday.

“He is a lovely horse to do anything with but the only thing he is not too good at is standing still.”

“Craig said being a bit fresh didn’t help and he was hopeful the horse would be able to step much better on Sunday.”

Franco Norton (30m) must step cleanly is he is to make use of his 10m handicap advantage over Sand Wave (40m).

McRae starts one more horse at Cromwell on Sunday in Ellie Franco.

The mare galloped out of the mobile on Friday after the race got underway after two false starts.

The trainer is willing to forgive the pacer for her early error under those circumstances.

“She is the one horse you wouldn’t want to have two false starts with.”

“She is a bit of a gate chaser and once the first false start happened that was about it for her.”

“She has drawn a bit wider (7) this time and we have made some gear changes, so hopefully she can get away.”

Ellie Franco trialled well ahead of her debut on Friday and looks well capable of winning should she put her feet in the right places for Craig Thornley.

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