Frank continues purple patch for Thurlow

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  • September 25, 2023
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By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Waverley trainer Bill Thurlow has enjoyed a successful run with his versatile team of runners recently, adding another to the board when producing Frank The Tank to score in the tough conditions at Awapuni on Saturday.

The Burgundy four-year-old jumped leisurely away from the barriers in the Pilet Contracting LTD/Pioneer Seeds 1400, but jockey Michael McNab soon had him settled midfield between runners behind a relatively strong pace set by Perkyorlamosa.

Frank The Tank was initially restricted for clear air down much of the home straight but McNab’s experience showed when the run appeared, and the gelding showed a strong turn of foot despite the deteriorating track conditions to drive over the top of Our Sassie Anne by three-quarters-of-a-length.

“I thought it was a very good ride, he just got back a bit on the inside and had to make a bit luck for himself,” Thurlow said.

“He’s a really progressive horse and showed a lot of heart late which was good.”

The lightly-tried gelding was having just his third race-day appearance after recording a fourth and a second in his first two starts, and was fairly dominant in the finish, justifying his $3.00 favouritism.

“He only just came to us this season, he was with some other people, so this is the first prep we’ve given him. I think he had a little wind issue that had to be sorted out so hence why he didn’t race until a bit later,” Thurlow said.

Thurlow plans to take his promising charge to the last day of the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival, targeting the MAAT 1400m event before aiming for a step-up in distance.

“We’re hoping he’ll get a mile, and that would give us a lot more options for him rather than just getting out to 1400m,” he said.

Frank The Tank’s victory topped off a successful couple of weeks for the Waverley trainer, also recording wins with exciting filly No Rain Ever at his home track earlier in September and steeplechaser Whiskey Tango finishing his campaign with a victory on Great Northern day at Te Rapa.

Thurlow has held a high opinion of No Rain Ever throughout her short career, and the three-year-old staked her claim for a trip to Riccarton Park in November for the Gr.1 Barneswood Farm 51st New Zealand 1000 Guineas, when breaking her maiden at Waverley after a promising two-year-old preparation.

Piloted by Craig Grylls, the filly sat off the speed in second through the running and was too strong when she challenged the leader and eventual runner-up Leinster, kicking away for a comfortable one-and-a-quarter length win.

“She’s a really nice filly that hopefully will get to the 1000 Guineas, it was a very good win, she’d only had one trial so she should improve a lot off that race,” Thurlow said.

The path to New Zealand Cup Week is undecided for the daughter of No Nay Never, Thurlow planning to send the filly to Hawke’s Bay next Saturday for either the MAAT 1300m, or the tougher test in the Gr.2 Animal Health Direct Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m).

“I’m leaning towards the Special Conditions 1300m race because the 1400m will be probably reasonably strong and she’s only second up,” he said.

“It’s quite funny and I’m probably not the only trainer that finds it quite hard to find the right lead-up races (to the 1000 Guineas) unless she went to the Sarten (Gr.2, 1400m), but I’m mindful that there’s a lot of travelling when you have to go down to Christchurch so you don’t want to be doing any more than you have too.”

Thurlow also mentioned there would be a possibility No Rain Ever would venture South early to contest the Gr.3 War Decree Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton on October 28 as a key lead-up to the Guineas.

“That plan’s up in the air at the moment, we’re not quite sure how we’ll attack it but we will see how we go after her next race and make a firm plan,” he said.

Thurlow was delighted to see his promising jumper Whiskey Tango cap off a successful first season over the steeplechase fences with a bold victory in a competitive 0-1 Steeplechase (3900m) at Te Rapa last weekend.

Visiting Victorian-based hoop Aaron Kuru had won aboard the Proisir six-year-old earlier in his campaign at the Waikato venue, and produced a similar front-running performance to score in a tight four-way finish ahead of Torque Time.

“I thought it was very good, once again it was a lovely ride by Aaron,” Thurlow said.

“He botched a jump going out into the country and dragged his legs through it a bit so I thought ‘I’m not sure what’s going to happen here’ but he picked himself up well and Aaron picked him up too and got him back into the race so that was probably the winning of the race there.”

Thurlow turned the gelding out for a well-deserved break as the end of the jumping season nears, but is excited for what the new year could bring with bigger targets in sight.

“Progressively I think he’s going to be a really nice steeplechaser, he’s only a young horse and really he’s done nothing wrong. He had one little blip when he went up there on a heavy track, obviously something was not quite right with him that day but other than that he’s gone well all year really,”  he said.

“He  does like better ground so we’ll probably get him back in a bit earlier and see whether we can get him going a bit earlier and go from there.

“As he gets a bit older and a bit stronger he’ll probably handle the heavy tracks better but at the moment I think he prefers the better tracks.

“We didn’t want to over face him this season, we always knew he showed us enough to give him a few races and pick our way through the year looking after him so that’s what we’ve done.

“Hopefully next year he’ll have a really good season.” – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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