Al gives us the inside oil on Lincoln Farms’ four runners at Redcliffe this week
Trainer Al Barnes lines up four horses for Lincoln Farms at Redcliffe this week, hoping gear changes and revised tactics will help them pay dividends.
Brian Christopher and Bondi Shake line up on Wednesday night with Franco Nandor and Man Of Action to follow on Thursday, Barnes liking the chances of improved runs from even his rougher chances.
Brian Christopher will be an even money favourite in the fifth race tomorrow night with the form line of 2112 in Brisbane and with a good front row draw.
“I’m not sure he can cross the two horse (Oliver Winkle) but we’ll go forward and either be in front or outside the leader,” says Barnes.
That would see Brian Christopher get a much better trip than last week when Barnes went forward from five but was caught four wide, then three wide with cover before settling three back on the outer.
Pushed wide when making his run, Brian Christopher ran on well to finish second to the Grant Dixon-trained Bettor Sport, who is a race rival again tomorrow but is stranded on the outside of the gate.
“He didn’t like coming wide last week, he was hanging badly and got on his knee, so I had trouble getting round Dixon’s wheel.
“I haven’t found the source of the problem yet but I’ve changed to a Brad bit this week to give me more leverage.”
With the Brad lugging bit the jaw piece is shaped to closely fit the horse’s jaw, allowing for immediate response if it attempts to lug.
“He’s racing well while doing things wrong so he’s got to improve when we can straighten him up.
“He’ll be an even money favourite and will be hard to beat.”
Bondi Shake will be one of the outsiders, drawn five in the following race, but Barnes says he just needs a tiny bit of luck to be in the money.
Bondi Shake might have looked ordinary last week, coming from a long way back to finish a distant fifth, but Barnes says nothing went his way.
“He was held up behind Hayden’s horse early and everywhere I went was a dead end.
“No one would cart me into the race and I didn’t want to go a round from home. He made ground on the field in good time. They went 1:56.1 round Redcliffe which is really good and I was really happy with him.
“We might go forward this time and make our own luck. He’s racing much better than his form line suggests and he looks a treat.”
Nandor freshened for Thursday
Expect Franco Nandor to be much sharper on Thursday when he lines up in the fifth ace, albeit handicapped by a second row draw.
“He’s definitely better than this lot,” says Barnes who admitted to pilot error for the horse weakening to fifth last start.
“Where I went wrong was I let Shane (Graham on Happy Publicans) look him in the eye.
“He wanted to run at the 800 but I thought, no boy, we’ll wait. I should have let him run and stayed half a length in front of the other horse. That was my learning curve.”
Barnes told stewards he adopted the tactic in an attempt to get Franco Nandor to finish off his race better. When he won at Redcliffe at his previous start he opened up a big margin at the 400 but won by only two lengths and was tiring badly at the line.
Barnes also told stewards the hot favourite was not himself and very fractious at Albion Park last Tuesday.
“He’s normally lovely and quiet but he was a different horse that day. He was a bit of a handful, he wouldn’t walk and didn’t want to score up.
“I think he was a little flat last week after racing four times in 15 days. I’ve freshened him up this week and he’s been brighter in the paddock.”
Barnes is toying with the idea of launching Franco Nandor from the second row soon after the start.
“I might let him settle then attack and try to get the top.”
Man Of Action sits on a 27-race losing streak but Barnes is looking forward to seeing what he can do from four in the ninth race.
“I was actually really happy with his run for sixth last week, which might surprise a lot of people. He felt super, and I got off the horse smiling. He felt like the old Man Of Action.”
Barnes sparked plenty of debate about his drive, his move to ease the horse early when racing one out and one back, allowing the three wide horse in, attacked by conspiracy theorists.
But while the horse he conceded to was driven by his son Brendan, Barnes told stewards it was a deliberate ploy to allow Man Of Action his best chance.
“I knew the horse in the chair was going to stop and I didn’t want to be the first to go three wide, he needed a helmet to follow or he’d have weakened.
“He felt super, he wanted to get out and run. But I locked wheels round the turn and had to grab hold. He got going again but the rest were off and gone.”
Barnes says a change to block eyes and a Brad bit have been a big asset for Man Of Action - the same gear which turned former Lincoln Farms’ vet Vasari into a monster before his sale to the States.
“I’m not saying he can win but he’ll give it a good shake.”
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Our runners this week
Saturday night at Albion Park
Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them
Friday night at Auckland
Race 2: Frisco Bay
“He obviously needed the run last week. He pulled his way round the field and sat outside the leader but he couldn’t cop a run like that first-up and got tired. The ability is there, whether he’s fit enough or not we’ll find out. But I expect him to go well, the three draw is much better than last week.”
Race 2: Lenny Lincoln
“He’ll probably need a race but he’s capable of running a slot. He’s unlucky not to have won a race, all three of his seconds were good. He’s got a bit better with each of his trials this time in and he got home well last Saturday, after coming widest on the turn.”
Race 3: Obadiah Dragon
“The way the race was run at Cambridge last week, his effort wasn’t bad at all. Moni (Monika Ranger) said he felt strong and, if he’d been a few slots closer, he would have been right in it. He’ll be improved for the run.”
Race 3: Leo Lincoln
“He’s very consistent - he’s only missed a couple of cheques. But he’s another just coming back and should improve with the run.”