New Overport owner enters the Nearea Franco line

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The outstanding career of NZ-bred mare Nike Franco was the catalyst for Gold Coast-based Mark Denyer to secure her Mach Three half-sister from the NZ Premier Yearling Sales in Christchurch six months ago.

A new owner for Overport Lodge, Mr Denyer is primarily aligned to the Dean Braun stable in Australia, but two filly purchases from the NZ sales have remained with Burnham trainer Mark Jones for their early development.

Nearea Franco, a quality racemare during her race career for the Steve McRae stable, and driver Craig Thornley.

Nearea Franco, a quality racemare during her race career for the Steve McRae stable, with driver Craig Thornley.

Nike Franco’s half-sister Naiya Franco was secured for $70,000.

Dean Braun prepared Nike Franco for much of her illustrious Australian career.

Secured by clients of the Braun stable after a first-up third in New Zealand for Spreydon Lodge trainer Steve McRae, Nike Franco was a multiple Group One winner across the Tasman.

Nike Franco was recently sold to North American interests after racing only 33 times in Australasia for 18 wins and 11 placings for $392,000.

Mr Denyer said he had followed the family of ‘Nike’ for some time and when the opportunity to buy her half-sister he thought “why not?”

Nike Franco, a 1:52.6 daughter of McArdle, is the first foal from the former top Canterbury mare Nearea Franco (Badlands Hanover-No Paba, p3, 1:58.4, US), who won $441,361 from 11 wins and 11 placings in 34 starts when prepared by Steve McRae.

Nearea Franco’s dam No Paba is an Abercrombie race-winning sister or half-sister to 12 individual winners including former champion racehorse Beach Towel (p3, 1:50), a former Meadowlands Pace and Breeders Crown winner, and US Horse Of The Year.

This is also the maternal family of former top NZ-bred WA winner Northview Punter (1:53, Aus & 1:51, US), a Bettor’s Delight winner of 23 races and $450,830.

Nearea Franco, who didn’t race until four, won the 2008 Listed 4YO Jewels Diamond at Cambridge in 1:54.4 and also in her debut season won the Group One 2008 Queen Of Hearts at Auckland.

She also won the Gr2 2009 Kaikoura Cup and Group Three 2010 Firestone Free-For-All at Addington on NZ Cup day at Addington.

Nearea Franco dashes clear from the trail for a big win in the Gr3 Firestone Free-For-All at Addington on NZ Cup day, 2010.

Nearea Franco dashes clear from the trail for a big win in the Gr3 Firestone Free-For-All at Addington on NZ Cup day, 2010.

Nearea Franco was also the runnerup twice to Monkey King in Gr2 (2009 Gr1 NZ Free-For-All & Searells Chartered Accountants Classic); the runnerup to De Lovely in the Gr1 2011 NZ Breeders Stakes at Addington; and runnerup to Report For Duty in the Group Two 2008 Kaikoura Cup.

She was also third to Kiwi Ingenuity and Smoke N Mirrors in the 2009 NZ Breeders Stakes at Addington.

Nike Franco is Nearea Franco’s first foal.

The family was in the news again at the Kurow meeting at Oamaru last Sunday when her second foal Nicaea Franco (by Falcon Seelster) won her maiden debut for the Mark Jones stable.

Nicaea Franco, just turned five, is co-raced by Spreydon Lodge and the Thunderbolt Syndicate.

She showed her toughness, easing back to last on settling for driver Craig Thornley.

Nicaea Franco was on the move three wide with 1300m to run, being left three wide in the open outside the leaders.

Craig was able to give her a breather when slotting into the one-one around the home turn, the kept fighting in the run home for a tencacious half-head win in a 2:02.6 rate (2000m).

She becomes the third filly and the third winner for Nearea Franco from as many to race.

Her third foal, Nyree Franco (by Bettor’s Delight) raced just four times this season for the Steve McRae stable, winning at Ashburton in April, and also recording a second and two thirds.

Franco Emirate storms home wide to win the 2011 Harness Jewels 4YO Emerald at Ashburton in 1:53.8.

Franco Emirate storms home wide to win the 2011 Harness Jewels 4YO Emerald at Ashburton in 1:53.8.

Mr Denyer’s other NZ Yearling Sales purchase was another Mach Three filly in Elianna Franco, a half-sister to the Gr1 2011 Ashburton Harness Jewels 4YO & Gr1 NZ Messenger 4YO winner Franco Emirate (1:53.8, 14 wins from only 33 starts & $334,449), for $30,000.

Also a half-sister to former Overport Lodge winner Franco Exeter (four wins), Elianna Franco is from Elisit Franco (1:57.1), a three-win Falcon Seelster half-sister to former top NZ, Aust. & USA pacer Franco Enforce (28 wins, 1:50.6, US), winner of the 1996 Gr1 NZ Sires Stakes 3YO Final, and both the 1997 Gr1 Australian and Queensland Derbys.

Mark, and wife Carla, recently moved to the Gold Coast after previously living in Sydney.

Mr Denyer works in the energy business in Australia for major Australian company AGL.

“I have ramped up to breed from four or five mares this season,” he said.

“I have recently bred from Zaras Delight (1:56.8, seven wins from 18 starts) and Rocknroll Angel (1:56.8, three wins from six starts), who were both nice 3YO fillies, before that ramp up.”

“I have full sisters by both to sell in the Sydney APG sales.”

The best horses Mr Denyer has raced from the Braun stable have been ex-NZ trotter (Our) Dreamlover, a Love You gelding winner 11 of 30 starts for $97,966, which he raced in partnership with Dean Braun and Harvey Kaplan; and NZ-bred Jennas Highview (Bettor’s Delight-Highview Miss), who he raced in the latter stages of her career.

Previously before her injury and a long spell, Jenna’s Highview (1:57) was trained by David Thorn in New South Wales.

She has compiled a good record, running second to subsequent Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling in the 2011 Australian Oaks, while she was also the runnerup to Forever Gold in the Queensland Oaks, and ran third in the Gold Coast Oaks.

“I currently have a yearling filly in work in Australia by Rocknroll Heaven from Jennas Highview, and a full-sister to sell at the Sydney APG sale, along with four others.”

In Australia, Mr Denyer also races Carlas Pixel (3f Courage Under Fire), winner of two from six starts including a $50,000 APG Consolation at Menangle on April 30 in 1:55.8; NZ-bred Mister Livan (Live Or Die-Van Hope), a 1:53.3 winner of 13 from 51 for $75,847; and Manly Mach, a 2YO winner from eight starts and runnerup in a Gr3 Ready2Run Stakes at Menangle in 1:54.3.

Mr Denyer’s two top-bred fillies, now early 2YOs in NZ, have every chance to expand his success under his Luckyden Pty Ltd banner.

By Jeff Scott