Northview Hustler (Hayden Barnes) is as good as trainer Al Barnes has had him. PHOTO: Dan Costello.

Al: Hustler will have to come from the back this time but he won’t be far away

Northview Hustler will need luck from the outside of the gate at Albion Park tonight but he’s in such good form trainer Al Barnes says he won’t finish far away.

The Hustler, fresh from an all-the-way win in a career best 1:52.5, meets a slightly easier line-up tonight but under the preferential draw system, as the highest rated horse, gets the worst draw.

And with two horses he knows the Hustler can’t cross, including pole runner Mattgregor, Barnes says his son Hayden will have no option but to ease back at the start.

“He can’t blast forward over 2138 metres. Mattgregor’s a really nice horse, is very good in front, and can reel off a quick half.

“Besides, with the speed the Hustler’s got, having to come from last isn’t a big disadvantage in a small field - he’s proven that time and time again.

“It’s tougher coming from last but he tries and I don’t think he’ll be far away. If there’s a chink in anyone’s armour he’ll be the one closing late.”

Barnes reports the Hustler has had another good week since his big win last Saturday night when he ran a closing half in 54.8 and quarter in 27 to beat Major Cam, Chevron’s Reward and Fame Assured, all rivals again tonight.

“He’s doing well and looks a treat - he’s solid and black as black, the best we’ve ever had him.

“He just needs a bit of luck.”

The Hustler meets a new rival in the form of ex-Kiwi Lets Katchmeifucan, who has been turned into a tiger since joining Craig Cross, with two seconds and five straight wins, the first of those at Menangle in 1:51.1.

Northview Hustler races at 11.10pm NZ time at Albion Park on Saturday night.Northview Hustler races at 11.10pm NZ time at Albion Park on Saturday night.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Tuesday at Albion Park

Race 6: Bondi Shake
7.17pm NZ time

“It’s a very good race, the hardest he’s tackled, and if he can run a place he’ll be doing well. I’m really interested to see how he goes because he’s improving all the time and hopefully he can step up again.”

Race 7: Larry Lincoln
7.57pm NZ time

“Larry got away on us a bit over Christmas but we’ve worked him a bit stronger since. He’s up to them but, from the draw, he’ll get back. We’ll drive him for luck. If the pace is on, he’ll run on. If they walk and sprint, it will make it tough.”

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Thursday night at Cambridge

Race 2: Themightyserina

“One the second row is probably a good draw for her. Hopefully from there she can get a good trip and run into a place.”

Race 4: Brodie Lindenny

“If he can get away a bit quicker than last time from the pole he could finish a lot closer. He won’t be setting the world on fire but he’s honest enough.”

Race 5: Brian Christopher

“He led easily enough when he drew one at Palmy so hopefully he can do that again. That suits him as he’s not a sit-sprinter, he’s better when he can roll along a bit.”

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 7: Argyle

“He looks our best early runner. He’s a big, powerful boy and from the one draw looks to have the best chance of our three on Friday night.”

Race 7: Sugar Apple

“You can’t fault what he’s been doing at the workouts and trials. He’s a neat little horse and I’m picking he’ll go a good race. Drawing wide will inconvenience him a bit. He’ll go back and hopefully get home really well.”

Race 7: Simply Sam

“He’s an improving horse, I like him a lot. I think he’ll be the big improver. If Argyle holds up from one, and he can sit behind him, he won’t be far away.”

Race 9: Major Grace

“Seven is a tough draw for her. If she’d drawn in closer I’d have been happier. But she’s a nice filly and won’t be far away.”

Race 10: Captain Nemo

“He hasn’t got the greatest record at Auckland. He tends to hit a knee going that way. He was good the other day at Cambridge. If he doesn’t pummel his knees he shouldn’t be too far away.”

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Friday at Albion Park

Race 3: Bondi Shake
4.03pm NZ time

“It’s a nice race for him and he’ll be hard to beat. He’s come through Tuesday’s run as good as gold. That race was brutal. He was a little weak at the finish but that’s the quickest he’s gone. It’s not an overly strong field.”

Saturday night at Albion Park

Race 3: Northview Hustler
9.35pm NZ time

“The draw’s not a bad thing as he’s still following speed. If he trails Watch Pulp Fiction, he wins, but it’s more likely he’ll be three fence, in which case he can run second. He’s trained really well this week.”

Whales Harness