Frankie Major (Monika Ranger) is stride for stride with Merlin (Zachary Butcher) close to home at Auckland last start.

Hot field and wide draw will test Frankie Major in Sires’ Stakes heat at Cambridge

Frankie Major has tested the best two-year-old in the north in both his last two starts but trainer Ray Green says he’ll need luck in the running to do it again on Thursday night.

Cambridge plays host to a top shelf line-up of juveniles for the first northern heat of the Woodlands’ Stud sponsored Sires’ Stakes series, and from six on the gate Lincoln Farms’ consistent colt will have his work cut out.

And that’s why experienced reinsman Todd Mitchell has been entrusted with the drive, says trainer Ray Green.

“Monika (Ranger) drove him perfectly last time but from that gate we thought we needed a versatile driver and Todd will sum things up pretty quickly.”

Green says while Frankie Major has found the front in both his recent clashes with Merlin at Auckland, moving our from gates four and five to six made it much more tricky.

“I wouldn’t like to see him turned into a habitual leader. I don’t want to see him gutted to beat them out of the gate.

“If he’s going to win a race like this he’ll need to get a good trip, he won’t do it roughing it. We know he’s also good from off the pace if he has to do that. But he’s going to need a bit of luck.”

With only five heats before this year’s Sires Stakes Final at Addington on November 8, and only one more Northern heat at Auckland on October 20, Green says Frankie doesn’t have much wriggle room.

Ray Green knows Frankie Major has an uphill battle beating Mark Purdon’s two-year-old battalion.Ray Green knows Frankie Major has an uphill battle beating Mark Purdon’s two-year-old battalion.And he knows that Merlin, Seve, Rocknroll Hammer, Gandalf, Son Of Mac and Miki Shan are only the entrees for what will be a very challenging final.

Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen’s All Stars’ opened their batting last week with four runners in the first Sires’ Stakes heat at Addington when OK Boomer upset his more favoured stablemates.

“We know Mark has lots of good ones. But hopefully Frankie can finish in the money on Thursday and qualify for the final.”

Lincoln Farms’ two other runners on Thursday, Major Grace and Whiz On Bye, will both need luck to figure in the money.

Major Grace starts from the niggly five draw in the fifth race but claims a placing on the course two starts back.

“She’s very honest and will win one but I wouldn’t like to say when,” Green said.

Whiz On Bye was used up a bit last time. He was there ’til they sprinted in the straight. But he’s just a horse and would need a lot of luck to win from the inside of the second row.”

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Cambridge

Race 3: Lincoln Lou

“He’s a beautiful little horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him run. It’s hard to know how good he is, or how far he’ll go, but I guess we’ll find out on Friday. He’s the one to beat from the draw. If he doesn’t win, he won’t be far away.”

Race 5: Commander Lincoln

“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”

Race 8: Onyx Shard

“It’s two and a half months since she last raced, and she didn’t grow as much as I thought she would, but I’m expecting her to go a good race. Her last two trials have been good and she’s pulled up well.”

Race 8: Obadiah Dragon

“He’ll need a good trip from five but he’s not out of it. He went a good race last time at Cambridge and would be as equal a chance as Onxy Shard.”

Race 8: Beaudiene Rocknroll

“It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff with him until they let them go but he should step away this time. Zac (Butcher) said the gate went particularly slowly before that race and that’s why he got impatient. I thought he did well to recover for third. If he made the front, where he goes best, he’d be hard to beat.”

Race 9: Frisco Bay

“He’s a tidy horse and I’m expecting a big run. We’ve sorted the problem he had with his breathing last season and he’s right in the zone now after a second and a win at the workouts.”

Mark Dux

Mark Dux’s comments

Saturday night at Albion Park

Race 5: Argyle
11.02pm NZ time

“It wouldn’t have mattered where he drew this week, he’s in the money, barring bad luck. He’s going terrific and he gets in so well at the ratings.”

Race Images - Harness