Clarke Hoping Frankie Can Square Country Championships Leger

By Ray Hickson

Braidwood is already home to one Newhaven Park South East Country Championships trophy and trainer Aaron Clarke would like to square up with his brother and add a second with Bon Frankie at Moruya on Sunday.

Trainer Aaron Clarke (Pic: Grant Guy)

Two years ago Clarke watched on as his younger brother Luke prepared Testator Silens to win the $150,000 feature run at Nowra so it’s no surprise he covets a win in the race.

Bon Frankie doesn’t quite have the profile as the progressive Testator Silens had in his year but Clarke says the gelding is his best chance to qualify a horse for the $1 million Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) in April.

“I’ve had a couple run in the heats not thinking they could win but he should be competitive,’’ Clarke said.

“The form around him seems pretty good, everything’s run smoothly and we seem to be on track.”

Clarke had designs on Bon Frankie having his shot at the Country Championships last year but basically sacrificed any chance of making the field to tick an important box by winning the Braidwood Cup. And he did that.

It might have been the best thing to have happened because a year on he brings a stronger profile into his bid for the SERA crown.

“I wanted to win the Cup here so we did that and he ran a third and fourth in a Highway but he probably wasn’t going as well as this time in,’’ Clarke said.

“He just wants to win I think. Not that he ever comes out and wins by a heap, he can relax well and has got a turn of foot and he seems to run on any ground.

“Whenever he goes to the races he runs an honest race and tries hard.”

Tyler Schiller rode Bon Frankie to win a TAB Highway at Rosehill in January, beating Agirlsbestfriend who secured her place in the Country Championships Final with a second placing at Tuncurry last weekend.

Richard Bensley, who rode him either side of that win, will take the Moruya mount.

Clarke said while the five-year-old was beaten at Canberra three weeks ago in a 1300m Federal it was by no means a step back and could prove to be a blessing in disguise.

“A couple more strides and he won that but in hindsight it’s probably good that he didn’t because he’d be carrying an extra 1.5kg,’’ he said.

“On the day there wasn’t a lot making ground from the back and he was one of the few that did. I thought it was a pretty good run.

“He’ll be racing horses that are rated higher than him and carrying as much weight but he’s used to carrying it.”

Bon Frankie has been to Moruya twice and finished second on both occasions, one of those in this preparation, and Clarke said his best chance to be in the finish on Sunday is to get an economical run behind a genuine tempo.

“He just needs a bit of speed on, if he can draw a nice barrier where he can sit midfield he should be running home,’’ he said.

“I’d expect him to beat more home than beat him.”