General Franco makes his eagerly-awaited reappearance in the Play Soccer 6 MR 94 Handicap over 1 400m at Durbanville on Saturday and, somewhat understandably, he has opened hot favourite.
This is the colt, a son of the great Frankel, who looked a potential superstar when accelerating like a machine to romp away with his debut in April only to finish plumb last when starting a prohibitive 7-20 for his follow-up a month later. He has not raced since.
“He has been doing very well at home, I have galloped him, he is ready and should give his full potential,” said Justin Snaith yesterday. “If he wins on Saturday he is obviously a horse for the future but he will have to prove it here and whether he is mature enough to win against a field like this I’m not sure. It is very hard at this level. Also he has never seen Durbanville although I have galloped him round the turn at Kenilworth.”
Snaith expressed concerns last month about the horse’s high rating of 102 and he did so again yesterday, saying: “I couldn’t run him before off that rating. He is still quite an immature horse and so I had to wait until he matured to a level at which I felt he would be competitive in this type of race.”
The reason for that bitterly disappointing second run remains something of a mystery. The only thing that showed up was slightly sore shins although some racegoers have suggested that, as he was not allowed to bowl along in front in the manner of his sire, he became disappointed and switched himself off.
But Snaith has ruled out racing him from the front on Saturday and he explained why. “I am trying to train him to be a miler-plus so I need him to settle. There are others in the race who are fast front-runners and therefore General Franco will be dropped out and tucked in.”
Richard Fourie has elected to partner the General rather than stable companions Frank Lloyd Wright, who was considered a bit unlucky when managing only fourth behind Icon King last time, and Green Jacket. The last-named is not a certain runner.
Snaith explained: “He was making a slight breathing noise this morning and I am going to give him a good sprint-up in the morning, see how he goes and then make a call.”
Green Jacket (Louis Mxothwa) is the outsider of the Snaith trio at 11-2 with General Franco odds-on at 8-10 and Frank Lloyd Wright (Corne Orffer) on 28-10. The only other runners are the Candice Bass-Robinson trained Meraki (Greg Cheyne) who is a 7-1 chance and the Harold Crawford-Michelle Rix pair Spectra Force (M.J. Byleveld) who is around 9-1 and Pink Floyd (Ossie Noach), the rank outsider of the party at nearly 20-1.
By Michael Clower