Franco Ecuador Ready for the Challenge

Oldbury trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice is looking forward with keen anticipation to the city debut of Franco Ecuador in the 2130m New Year Eve at GP Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Prentice has a high opinion of the big, powerful colt who will be making his Gloucester Park debut after effortless victories at Pinjarra at his first two starts in a race.

Franco Ecuador, purchased by prominent owner Rob Watson for $28,000 at the 2018 New Zealand premier yearling sale, is being set for the WA Derby in March and Prentice is confident that he will prove hard to beat this week when he is drawn awkwardly at barrier six in a field of eight and will be clashing with several talented three-year-olds.

He will line up against the Kristy Elson-trained pair of Jaspervellabeach and Secret Operation, Justin Prentice’s smart gelding Major Martini, Poisedtopounce, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, Craig Abercromby’s promising gelding Dissertation, Kyle Anderson’s Al Guerrero (a winner at four of his past seven starts) and the only filly and non-winner in the race, Kim Prentice’s Soho Party Girl.

“I think Franco Ecuador will measure up to city-class racing,” Prentice said. “I hope so; he’s run the times. First-up, it was a walk in the park and a sprint home (leading and dashing over the final 400m in 26.9sec. and winning by more than ten lengths over 2185m at Pinjarra on debut).

“And he really impressed me at his next start (racing wide early and then without cover before beating My Carbon Copy by three lengths at a 1.54 rate over 1684m at Pinjarra last Monday week).

“Every time he meets better horses is a challenge, and I’m looking forward to the challenge this week, for sure. We could’ve got a better barrier and my tactics will be determined by how it all pans out. It will be his first time around Gloucester Park. He’s a big kid and will be having a good look around.

“He is going to have this start and then he’ll have a short break before getting ready for the three-year-old races, leading up to the Derby.”

Franco Ecuador, a colt by American stallion A Rocknroll Dance, is a half-brother to Franco Edward, a $17,000 yearling who has raced 18 times (all in WA) for 11 wins, five placings and stakes of $221,468. His wins as a two-year-old included the Group 1 Pearl Classic and the Group 1 Golden Slipper. As a three-year-old, Franco Edward finished third behind Major Trojan and Bletchley Park in the WA Derby and second to Eloquent Mach in the Western Gateway Pace.

“I don’t know whether Franco Ecuador is as quick as Franco Edward, but I think he might be a little bit stronger,” Prentice said.

Elson said that Jaspervellabeach (barrier two) and Secret Operation (four) were fit and ready to perform strongly. Nathan Turvey, the No. 1 driver for the Elson stable, will be in action at the Albany meeting where he will have a drive in all of the eight events.

Elson has engaged Chris Voak to handle Jaspervellabeach, a winner of four races, including the Golden Slipper and a Group 2 feature event last season. Michael Grantham will drive Secret Operation, whose 17 starts have produced four wins and six placings.