Race caller extends record

J Scott Former News, Latest News




Racecaller Mark McNamara says Champagne Franco’s debut win at Rangiora on Sunday, December 18, was an unexpected bonus, especially after drawing the outside of the second row over the 2000m from a stand.

“I just wanted to win a race sometime. I didn’t expect to get it first-up,” he said.

champagne-franco-mark-with-mark-copyThe Canterbury-based broadcaster is fashioning a useful record as an owner with runners at the Overport Lodge stables of Mark Jones, having won earlier races as a co-owner of Union Buster and Anita Patron.

He selected Champagne Franco at the 2010 NZ Premier Yearling Sale, with his partner then, and now wife Katie, securing her at the sale for $20,000.

“I wanted one when I first moved over. I had some long service money available and I liked a colt that has since qualified a couple of weeks ago, but doesn’t look like he’s going to be much good,” he said.

The colt was outside his reach, but he also liked Champagne Franco on breeding, and after he found her to be kicking a wall in her box, when he inspected her pre-sale.

“I thought she’s got some attitude. I thought she’d go for more than that but we ended up with her.”

Despite that kicking session, the filly, also aptly known as “bubbles”,  has settled down to be very tractable.

“She’s pretty sensible and has a placid nature. I drive her most mornings and Katie drives her a bit too,” Mark said.


“I was actually at the Riccarton races when we bought her,” Mark recalled.

“Katie was bidding for me. I was at the start for a 1600m maiden. I can still see it, it was cold and pouring with rain,” he said.

The McNamaras’ race Champagne Franco with Katie’s dad Steve, and Mark’s mate Aaron Goadsby, who works as a stablehand in New South Wales.

Mr Goadsby, who Mark McNamara met going to Sydney harness racing meetings some 10 years ago, was a groomsman at the McNamara wedding last month.

According to Mr McNamara, Mr Goadsby was delighted to watch Champagne Franco register his first win as an owner on NZ soil on Sunday.

Because of the filly’s size, trainer Mark Jones always said she’d be a three-year-old before she raced.

He stepped her well from the horror barrier draw to end up in mid outer position on settling.

Mark had her on the move three wide beginning the final 800m to be parked outside the leader at the 500m.

Champagne Franco kicked well turning for home, holding strong late finisher Franco Harrison by a length in 2:34.4 for the 2000m, the leaders running their last 800m in 57.9s.

She will now try for more of the same at the upcoming Banks Peninsula meeting on December 29.

Champagne Franco is bred to win races. She is the first foal from Crusader Franco (TT, 1:58.6, four wins), while Crusader Franco’s grand-dam dam Cherubic, won six including the 1993 Pascoe Jewellers Great Northern Oaks for West Melton trainer Ian Shinn.

Cherubic (Tuapeka Knight-Chin Chin Cherie) has been a successful broodmare leaving seven sub 2:00 winners including fast North American winner Franco Catapult (1:49.4 & over $US613,974), Franco Conquest (1:53.4, US) and Franco Croupier (1:54.8, US).


By Jeff Scott