Early fireworks will decide Tommy’s fate - if he crosses to the pegs he can run a place
The first few hundred metres will determine if Tommy Lincoln can earn some money in Friday night’s first heat of the Interdominion championship at Albion Park in Brisbane.
Trainer Mark Dux believes Lincoln Farms’ five-year-old, who is one of the outsiders for the series, can run a place if he can cross the pole runner inside him without spending too much petrol.
“I think we’re three-quarters of a length quicker than Targaryen, so we’ve got to have a go, but I wouldn’t like to see him spend everything off the gate and have nothing left.”
Driver Mathew Neilson will have to tread a fine line between having a serious crack at finding the markers but not burning so hard that the horse gets tired late.
“I’m not 100% certain he can cross but it’s a big advantage being on the markers at Albion Park so we’ll have a crack.”
Dux says sometimes it’s more important to know the form of the drivers as the horses and a notable declaration today for Targaryen was top reinsman Luke McCarthy, replacing regular pilot Chloe Butler who is under suspension.
But it’s the driver of the in-form Future Assured, Trent Dawson, who gives Dux plenty of hope that it won’t be the end of the world if Tommy doesn’t cross and has to sit in the running line.
“Future Assured will go forward and they always drive Uptown Beach girl tough too so Tommy should get cover.
“If we got the lead I’d be happy if we could lob straight onto the back of Future Assured as he won’t hand - he’d park Rock N Roll Doo - and he will run, he’s a decent horse.”
Dux believes Tommy will have to lift his game a notch to match the three favourites who all have faster winning times over 1660 metres or a mile.
In his recent winning streak, Future Assured clocked winning mile rates of 1:50.9, 1:51.6 and 1:51.8. Rock N Roll Doo ran 1:50.1 in winning the Len Smith Mile at Menangle in September. And 28-race winner Spirit Of St Louis, a dual Miracle Mile placegetter, clocked 1:51.5 in winning the Golden Mile and pushed South Coast Arden to half a head in June’s J D Watts Memorial, run in 1:49.1.
Of the others, the unknown quantity is I Cast No Shadow who a year ago won the Len Smith Mile at Menangle in 1:48.8. But he hasn’t won a race since last year’s Interdominion and, no longer with Jason Grimson, he has shown nothing in Queensland yet for Darrel Graham.
“Unless they try and nurse their horses because there are three heats, they’ll run about 1:51 and Tommy will have to step up a little.”
The horse’s best winning mile rates in Brisbane have been 1:52.7 and 1:52.8 but he was only 11 metres behind Blacksadance when he ran his then record 1:50.
Dux is confident, however, that he has the horse in prime condition to run a big 1660 fresh-up for seven months.
“Both of his trials have been good. And last Friday he led and really hit the line well. Mathew didn’t take the whip out with him or pull the plugs, the horse did it on his own and ran a nice half of 54.5.”
In scoring by 13 metres over former Kiwi Rough And Ready, Tommy Lincoln clocked a mile rate of 1:53.7 for the 1660 metres, home in 26.9.
But Dux knows Tommy’s taking on topline horses who are capable of running fast sectionals like that.
“These horses can all run a good half and you’d think they’d go hard - unless we get rain and they’re predicting we might.”
* Nine horses start in each of the four pacing heats on Friday night, seven across the front 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.”