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The mobile gate at Albion Park pulls away. If Trojan Banner stays on the markers on Friday he’ll be buried for sure.

‘Horrible’ draw for Trojan Banner leaves Al in a quandary over tactics for Friday

Trainer Al Barnes has only one word for Trojan Banner’s draw at Albion Park on Friday - horrible.

Just a week after Lincoln Farms’ colt strolled round the track to a decisive first-up win in Queensland, he has been set a very difficult task from the inside of the second row.

And that, says Barnes, will make it very hard for him to win the third race at 4.57pm NZ time.

“He meets a similar class to last week and should really be a $1.50 shot but from there he could start at $4.

“The horse in front of him is a slug off the gate and if we follow him we could end up three or four deep on the fence.

“I’ll have to make a decision in the next few days what to do. If we come off early then you’ve got to circle the whole field and he’d have a very hard run.

“He’s certainly capable of doing it but I don’t know if I want to put pressure on him like that second up.’’

Trojan Banner looking sharp at his Marburg stable in Queensland this week.Trojan Banner looking sharp at his Marburg stable in Queensland this week.Barnes says he’s reluctant to “cook” Trojan Banner like his stablemate, former Lincoln Farms’ pacer Lincoln Road, who has endured two terrifically hard runs from bad draws in recent weeks and is now having a breather in the paddock.

Driving the horse quietly, especially when he is sure to be well backed, would come under the scrutiny of the stewards - “but they understand how it’s very hard to win coming from last.

“The only saving grace is that the race is over 2138 metres. If it had been a mile we would have been in a world of trouble.

“At least over the longer distance you have a little time up your sleeve. You can grab hold, pop off, give them a little breather in the second quarter, then take it as it comes.

“If the pace slackens you can slip around them. If not, you can be patient and put him in the race in the last 600 metres.

“He’s got a good enough turn of foot that he can come from anywhere.’’

Barnes says he has considered scratching Trojan Banner but with a two-week stand down it would only hinder his preparation and wouldn’t help pay the bills.

“He’s had a good week and has improved greatly since his last run but he’s still not at his peak.

“He took time to recover after his fast work yesterday and it was at 7am so it wasn’t in ridiculous heat.’’

Barnes confirmed his elder son Hayden would drive Trojan Banner again, despite Brendan being listed on the Australian harness website.

“Brendan is in Sydney for the Bathhurst Gold Crown.’’

Trojan Banner races at 4.57pm NZ time on Friday.Trojan Banner races at 4.57pm NZ time on Friday.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 4: Copy That

“He’s certainly got some speed. The race was all over by the time he got going last week and James never pulled the plugs. Clearly he’s the best horse in the field on ability. But there are no guarantees he’ll behave.’’

Race 4: Tommy Lincoln

“He’s trialling well but I won’t be expecting too much from gate six. He was a big, gangly, weak thing but he’s strengthened up a lot this time in.”

Race 4: Billy Lincoln

“It’s his first race, and first time away from Pukekohe and he’s drawn the inside of the second row so logic tells you he has a few things against him. Until six weeks ago he was extremely average but he’s progressively got better and better.”

Race 8: Governor’s Bay

“He had a tough trip last time so it wasn’t surprising he weakened. He’s training well and this field looks a lot easier.”

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Friday at Albion Park

Race 1: Lincoln’s Girl
2.42pm NZ time

“It’s not a bad field but she’s as good as anything else in there and looks a top two chance with a little luck from the second row. She went super last time - I didn’t know how brave she’d be when I saw her caught in the chair but Hayden was very happy with how she went.”

Race 9: Vasari
7.22pm NZ time

“He should get out a lot better this week with Hayden back driving and we’ll be trying to cross the pole marker. The horse is really well and he’ll win one soon. It’s a good line-up but he should run top three.’’

Anthony Butt

Ants’ comments

Saturday night at Menangle

Race 7: Lets Strike The Gold
10.22pm NZ time

“This is a difficlut race for him to win and I’ll be driving him quietly from that barrier. It’s been nearly nine months since he raced and he’s going to need a couple of runs to get his race fitness.”

Race Images - Harness