Connections of Nathans Courage.
Nathans Courage, beaten into second place by Franco Rayner in a qualifying heat of The West Australian Nights of Thunder, can turn the tables on his arch rival in the $50,000 final over 1730m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
That’s the verdict reached by Michael Grantham, whose confidence was boosted after Nathans Courage, trained by Michael Brennan, drew barrier No. 4 and Franco Rayner drew out wide at No. 8.
“Obviously, it’s great to draw inside Franco Rayner,” Grantham said. “I’m sure Browny (trainer Colin Brown) will tell Maddison (his daughter) to go forward as hard as they can. It looks a race in two if I get the top and Franco Rayner sits outside of me. If that’s the case I don’t think Franco Rayner can beat me. But it promises to be a great race.
“I think that Nathans Courage, who has blistering speed, can cross to the front and then go all the way. Nathans Courage has matured a lot in this preparation and has a lot of bottom to him now. However, Franco Rayner also has a lot of bottom, too.”
Colin Brown said that his daughter would make us of Franco Rayner’s brilliant early speed from his wide draw. “Maddison knows the horse well and, obviously, you can’t go back.
“It’s a huge advantage to lead at Gloucester Park, but Franco Rayner doesn’t have to lead to be in the thick of it. I’m not saying that we’re going to win it from the breeze, but Franco Rayner has done super since his win in a heat.
“All my horses are down at the beach most days now, unless there’s a howling southerly. All the horses love the beach and Franco Rayner struts around like a bantam rooster, puffing his chest out and telling everybody how good he is.”
Maddison Brown certainly has built up a great rapport with Franco Rayner. She has driven him ten times for six wins. The New Zealand-bred four-year-old has already earned $137,481 from 13 wins and nine placings from 37 starts.
Ace reinsman Gary Hall jun. does not agree that the Nights of Thunder will be a two-horse affair and he gives five-year-old American Boy an excellent winning chance, particularly after drawing the prized No. 1 barrier over the sprint journey.
American Boy, trained by Gary Hall sen., has a wonderful 68 per cent winning record, with his 22 starts producing 15 wins and four seconds.
American Boy resumed after an absence of just over four months when he raced wide early and then in the one-out, one-back position before sprinting strongly to burst to the lead on the home turn and win by almost two lengths from Char Do Neigh at a 1.54.1 rate in a heat of the Nights of Thunder last Friday night.
“I’ll be trying to hold the lead,” Hall jun. said. “American Boy is good enough to win and we’ll certainly be making it tough for his rivals. I know that the other two are going really well, but I would say that American Boy is equally as good as them, if not better. He can win.”