Franco Edward is a Great Bargain

Exciting colt Franco Edward is proving to be one of the best bargains in recent times and he will boost his earnings to $325,541 if he justifies the confidence of his young trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper and wins the $200,000 Sky Racing WA Derby at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Kim Prentice bought Franco Edward for just $17,500 at the 2017 Auckland yearling sales on behalf of prominent WA owner Rob Watson and the brilliant pacer has already amassed $197,541 from nine wins and four seconds from 15 starts.

Franco Edward has certainly exceeded early expectations and to illustrate claims that he is a marvellous bargain is that two of the most expensive purchases at the 2017 Auckland sales Kokomo Beach and Franco Stallone have not set the world on fire.

Kokomo Beach was sold for $187,500 and Franco Stallone was sold for $190,000. Kokomo Beach, renamed Typhoon Stride, has been unplaced at two country starts in Victoria for stakes of $490 and Franco Stallone, renamed Puntarno Stride, has earned $1750 from a second at Horsham and a third at Maryborough.

Franco Edward, by American stallion American Ideal, is the first foal out of the unraced Changeover mare Edinburgh Franco, whose dam Elisit Franco raced 16 times for three wins and three placings for stakes of $10,750 before being retired to stud where she has produced five winners, including star WA mare Eden Franco (35 starts for 14 wins, 15 placings and $189,465) and Franco Emirate (33 starts for 14 wins, 11 placings and $332,830).

Elisit Franco’s dam Emily Franco managed one win and one placing for $3800 from ten starts, but she produced Franco Enforce, who had 70 starts for 28 wins, 19 placings and $593,738.

Franco Edward warmed up for Friday night’s Derby in fine style with an effortless victory in 2150m Byford trial on Sunday morning when driven by Lindsay Harper.

He revealed his superb gate speed to set a dawdling early pace before scorching over the third 400m section of the final mile in 26.3sec. and then was not extended in coasting over the final quarter in 28.7sec.

Whether Kyle Harper, who will contesting a WA Derby for the first time, rolls the dice and makes a spirited bid from the No. 4 barrier for the early lead is problematical. There is abundant speed on his inside in the polemarker Bletchley Park and Its Rock And Roll (barrier three).

Harper predicted that Colin Brown would make full use of Its Rock And Roll’s dazzling early pace and would quickly assume the role of pacemaker. Expanding on his theory, Harper said that if Its Rock And Roll got to the front and Major Trojan (from barrier five) surged forward to race in the breeze that he could be fortunate to take the sit in the one-out, one-back position behind Major Trojan.

He added that this was purely theoretical and that if Bletchley Park or Major Trojan got to the early lead and set the pace it would completely change the complexity of the 2536m race.

“It’s exciting times,” Harper said. “Franco Edward’s point-to-point speed is exceptional. His final half in the Byford trial was very impressive as was his last-start second to Eloquent Mach last Friday week when he unwound a great finishing burst.”

That close second to Eloquent Mach in the Group 2 Western Gateway Classic came after Franco Edward was restrained at the start from the outside barrier (No. 9) and was last in the field of 12 at the bell before charging home when the final two 400m sections (off the front) were covered in 28.3sec. and 28.5sec.

The New Zealand-bred Major Trojan, who was sold to clients of champion trainer Gary Hall Snr for what was reported to be a substantial amount, is sure to prove extremely hard to beat on Friday night. The big colt has improved steadily since arriving in WA. He followed three successive placings behind smart stablemate Eloquent Mach with a commanding display to set the pace and win, unextended by three and a half lengths from Gee Jay Kay in a Derby prelude over 2130m last Friday night.

Major Trojan will start from barrier five and star reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said that he expected a powerful showing from the colt. “He’s got a motor and I’ll have a few options,” he said. “We’ve got the right horse able to make a few runs in the race. I’m more happy with him going into the race than I was with King of Swing last year (when he raced in the breeze and beat the fast-finishing Bechers Brook by a head).”

The powerful combination of Hall Snr and Hall Jnr have dominated the WA Derby in recent years, winning the classic four times over the past six years, scoring with Alta Christiano, Beaudiene Boaz, Chicago Bull and King of Swing.

Hall Jnr said that he had served a tough apprenticeship in the Derby, with three second placings before his recent run of successes. He drove Ivory Trader for trainer Ross Olivieri in the 2002 WA Derby when the gelding finished a neck second to Tricky Vic and then finished a nose second with Ulrich behind Global Force in 2004 and was second with Macraider to Argent Treasure in 2008.

Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed said he expected a strong showing from Bletchley Park from the coveted No. 1 barrier and that his son Mark had the opportunity to set the pace with the black colt who has led and won three times in a career of 12 starts for seven wins and two placings.

Mike Reed, who has prepared WA Derby winners with Tricky Vic in 2002 and Ace of Spades in 2003 (both driven by his son), said that Bletchley Park was working strongly and he hoped he would go one better than stablemate Bechers Brook, who was 11th on the home turn and charged home, six wide, to finish a head second to King of Swing in the 2018 Derby.

“At Bletchley Park’s final run as a two-year-old he finished a nose second to Franco Edward in the Pearl Classic and I believe that there’s not much between Franco Edward and my bloke. And we’ve got the good draw.”

Apart from Major Trojan, the Hall stable will be represented in Friday night’s big race with Robbie Easton and Eloquent Mach. Robbie Easton (Micheal Ferguson) will be an outsider after drawing the outside barrier (No. 9), but Eloquent Mach (Stuart McDonald) will have admirers from barrier two on the back line. Eloquent Mach has won in fine style at each of his past three starts and cannot be underestimated.

Veteran Banjup trainer Colin Brown, who drove the Greg Bond-trained Richard Henry in the 2005 WA Derby, is hoping for an all-the-way win with the speedy Its Rock And Roll, who is racing keenly and this season after excelling as a two-year-old with victories in the Group 1 Sales Classic and Group 2 Champagne Classic. Brown’s other Derby runner is Patrickthepiranha, who will be handled by Dylan Egerton-Green from the outside of the back line. Patrickthepiranha has won at nine of his 13 starts and is capable of surprising.