Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
“So far, so good,” said a delighted trainer Kim Prentice after driving Franco Ecuador to a superb victory in the 2130m APG Pacing Gold Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
It was a wonderful performance at his third appearance in his comeback campaign after a 21-month absence, following a career-threatening injury following his close-up third behind Patronus Star and Major Martini in the WA Derby early in April 2020.
Franco Ecuador showed no signs of being inconvenienced by five screws in his off-hind leg when he settled at the rear after starting from barrier six on Friday night before charging forward after 500m to take the lead 300m later and going on to win by a head from Orlando Blue, rating 1.56.6.
If he remains sound, Franco Ecuador, the New Zealand-bred five-year-old son of A Rocknroll Dance, has the raw ability to develop into one of WA’s finest pacers.
“I’m very proud of him; it was a very tough run,” said Prentice. “I will just play things by ear and try to pick a race for him in a fortnight, whether we come back here or if there is a suitable race in the country.
“I’m thinking about putting him in the Pinjarra Cup (on Monday week, March 7), only because it is five minutes from home, and I won’t have to drive him as the best horse in the race. I know that he will be up to them (the State’s best horses) in 12 months. Whether he’s up to them now, I’m not sure.”
Prentice said that after Franco Ecuador had finished third in the Derby he gave him ten weeks off. “I brought him back, and he was two weeks from trials when he was just jogging one morning when he fractured his pastern and underwent surgery when five screws were inserted in the leg,” said Prentice.
Franco Ecuador’s three appearances in his comeback have been full of merit. He was a close first-up second to Ima Fivestar General at Gloucester Park after racing three wide for much of the way and sprinting the final 800m in 55.7sec.
He then was untroubled to set the pace and win by four lengths from Vulcan Star at a 1.56.5 rate over 2185m at Pinjarra eleven days before Friday night’s victory.
Franco Ecuador is a half-brother to the richly-talented Franco Edward, who was an outstanding two-year-old in the winter of 2018 when he won two group 1 classics, the Pearl and Golden Slipper, before finishing third behind Major Trojan in the 2019 WA Derby.
Franco Edward has raced only 18 times for 11 wins, five placings and $221,468 in prizemoney. Franco Ecuador now has raced nine times for five wins, two placings and stakes of $53,489.