Al says yes to the Redcliffe Derby after Trojan extends unbeaten run to six - but it was close!
Trojan Banner might have won by only a small margin last night but he got round the tricky triangular track well enough to earn a tilt at the $21,000 Redcliffe Derby on Saturday week.
Fans of the Kiwi colt might have been getting a little concerned as he tired late to scrape home by half a head, returning a rock bottom $1 for a win and $1 for a place.
But trainer Al Barnes wasn’t worried about the tight finish, which only exposed his lack of race fitness.
Barnes saw what he wanted and afterwards got the right report from driver son Hayden that Trojan Banner paced well enough round the circuit to make him competitive in the Redcliffe Derby.
“We made a few gear changes - used a gaiting strap to keep him straight in behind - and swapped to a snaffle bit and jaw breaker to give Hayden a bit more leverage on his mouth.
“It didn’t stop him hanging completely, but he was manageable, and he didn’t get on himself.
“And he would have paced a 56 last half and that’s as quick as they go around Redcliffe.’’
True to the plan Barnes disclosed before the race, Trojan Banner went back at the start, so as not to turn the race into a Sunday afternoon stroll in front.
Hayden sat last in the five-horse field until the 1000 metre mark when he pulled out and started working up to park outside the leader Let’s Dig It.
Trojan Banner easily claimed the lead turning for home and looked to be in for a comfortable win until Feelingforarainbow started to make inroads.
While the margin was close at the finish of the 2040 metres, Trojan Banner never looked like being run down and extended his unbeaten winning streak in Queensland to six.
“You like to see them running away but he got the job done, because he’s a tradesman, and it was only his fitness that let him down.
“We probably thought he was a bit more forward but he hasn’t had a lot of fast work, only two or three hitouts at home plus his trial. And good horses can run 1:55 in a trial.
“He’s still a little tubby which is good as we don’t want him spot on for the first derby.’’
Barnes says he may now trial Trojan Banner at Albion Park on Tuesday to top off his fitness.
“Otherwise it’s 10 days between runs and we can’t do real fast work at home as we only have a 650 metre track.’’
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Friday night at Auckland
Race 2: Bettor My Dreamz
“I think he’s a chance from the draw. He’s had only a handful of starts but I don’t think they’re much better than him, a bit more experienced perhaps. But he’s an improver and David said he felt improved at the workouts last Saturday.”
Race 2: Just Wing It
“Andre’s keen on him - he could have driven the other horse - so we’ll see what sort of a judge he is. I’ve been very happy with him in the last few weeks - he’s pacing a lot better.”
Race 5: Sir Tiger
“He’s done a great job so far but he’s jumping up in class and he’ll be up against it from now on, especially from that second row draw. He just lacks a yard of speed.”
Race 7: The Empress
“She’ll go well again and just needs some luck from the inside second row. There’s not a lot between her and Bettor My Dreamz. She’s a lovely mare.”
Saturday night at Melton
Race 8: Perfect Stride
11pm NZ time
“I’m confident he’ll go well. I couldn’t say I’m overly confident he’ll beat them but all things being fair and equal I think he’ll be right there. He’s certainly ready to go. His work this morning was super and he’s really feeling good.”
Saturday night at Albion Park
Race 6: Northview Hustler
9.40pm NZ time
“It’s only an eight horse field and he should get a great trip behind the leader. It was only (lack of) fitness that got him last week but he should be winning this week.”