Al looking for front-running advantage with Franco Nandor and Brian Christopher
Trainer Al Barnes is expecting good front-running performances from both Franco Nandor at Albion Park on Tuesday and Brian Christopher at Redcliffe on Wednesday.
Barnes was pleased with the efforts of both horses last week and says Franco Nandor, in particular, went better than it might have looked to the casual observer.
Sent out a $151 outsider, Barnes drove the horse hard from three on the gate and was about to cross easily when Franco Nandor got on his knee, struck his knee boot, which dislodged, then hit his knee again, causing him to break stride.
Barnes was able to get the horse back into his gait quite quickly - “he only scrambled, he didn’t really gallop” - and after settling fourth in the running line, eventually gained a one-out one-back trail.
“But he got on one rein after that - obviously feeling his knee - and I couldn’t steer him. He was travelling round the turn but I couldn’t pull him out.”
Franco Nandor finished eighth, 14.5 metres from the impressive winner Watts Up Sunshine, who ran fifth in Krug’s Redcliffe Derby at the weekend.
“I’ve rectified the problem this week by fitting spreaders so he can’t hit his knee.
“I was really happy with his run last week and he’ll be stronger this time. I’ve also put a good driver back on in (son) Hayden and hopefully he can cross from five and we’ll see how he goes in front.
“It’s a good, even field - a couple go pretty well - but he’s a chance to get some money. If he leads, they’ve got to catch him.”
Franco Nandor, who has won two of his 15 starts, is raced by international Kiwi golfer Ryan Fox, Denis Ebert, Steve MacDonald, Chris Prutton, Wayne Seebeck and Lincoln Farms’ John and Lynne Street.
Barnes will drive Brian Christopher himself again at Redcliffe where he got a pleasant surprise last week with how hard the horse tried when second to hotpot Paratrouper.
Brian Christopher, who had shown little in trackwork leading up to his Queensland debut, made the front from gate three without any effort and leaves from the same spot on Wednesday night.
“Hopefully we’ll be in front again and they’ll have to catch us. He was a touch short on fitness first-up which cost him, and was keen in the run.
“He meets a similar field to last week and if he repeats that effort he’s a winning chance.
“Mullum Boy looks the one to beat but it will be harder for him drawn three on the second row.”
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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.”