Travel the key for Franco Santino

By Jonny Turner

It may not just be how Franco Santino travels in the running which could decide his fate in the Rangiora Winter Cup on Sunday.

The Nathan Williamson trained and driven pacer drops massively in class for the 2600m handicap after clashing with U May Cullect in his last start in the Uncut Gems Classic at Addington.

Franco Santino disappointed Williamson with his run for eighth behind his freakish provincial counterpart.

The trainer-driver put the horse’s below par run down to the horse not handling travelling from Invercargill to Christchurch well.

And that is his main concern ahead of Franco Santino returning to Canterbury on Sunday.

“We were a little bit disappointed with his run at Addington,” Williamson said.

“I think his run at Invercargill fresh up was a good run going forward and we were quite happy with him.”

“The big concern was he didn’t travel particularly well.”

“Being a colt he got himself quite worked up.”

Williamson has put a different travel routine in place in an effort to get Franco Santino to settle better on his return trip to Canterbury.

“We are going to travel through the day before and just try to keep him as relaxed as we can.”

Williamson has absolutely no concerns about what order Franco Santino will be in when he sets off for Rangiora.

The horse has thrived since his last run at Addington.

“I am really happy with the horse,” the trainer-driver said.

“He is in a really good space and his work has been great.”

The Rangiora Winter Cup conditions looks to have given Franco Santino a big winning chance.

The pacer is clearly the highest rated horse in the event and starts from the 10m mark.

“It sets up well, the small fields should help him,” Williamson said.

“They can be quite tactical, but he is quite versatile.”

“He can sit off them and sprint pretty good or he can do a bit of work and can still stick it out.”

Nimah Franco looks one of Franco Santino’s main rivals on the strength of her good last start second behind A Bettor Act at Addington.

The Terry and Glenys Chmiel trained mare has the manners to be able to pinch a handy break on Franco Santino at the start.

Jay Tee Tyron and Doitson finished third and fourth, respectively, behind Nimah Franco in their last starts.

They, too, look strong chances in Sunday’s feature. 

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