Frankie Major is much better than his form line suggests. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.

Improved work by Frankie Major hints he could be ready to show us more on Thursday

Frankie Major’s work this morning raised hopes that he could be ready to recapture form at Cambridge on Thursday night.

It’s been nearly 10 months and 11 starts since Frankie Major last won, during which time he has often battled top line oppositon and, lately, an even tougher invisible foe, a seasonal virus.

But Lincoln Farms’ top driver Zachary Butcher told trainer Ray Green that Frankie Major felt more like his old self today.

“He seems to have improved a bit - he’s training better and he wasn’t bad this morning,” Green said. “Hopefully he’s back to where he was before the virus.

“If he was on his best game he’d be the one to beat, but that’s the big question, is he there?”

This time last year Frankie Major was running seconds and slogging out with topliners like Merlin and Beach Flybye, and running slick sectionals when eighth behind Don’t Stop Dreaming, Sherlock, Alta Meteor and Merlin in the Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington.

But he’s been in the money only four times since, during which time Green has learned that Frankie “isn’t the bravest when he has to work too hard in the running.”

From a cosy two draw on Thursday, driver Andre Poutama should be able to take up a handy spot without burning too hard, a distinct advantage in a field which includes a number of talented up-and-comers, including Cassius Clyde and the much higher-rated Village Rebel.

And while Frankie was obviously out of sorts last start, when, after sitting parked, he was looking for his bed all of 500 metres out, his previous two starts weren’t the worst.

His effort for fifth at Auckland behind Aardiebytheseaside, Miki Noel, Lincoln River and Nelson’s Boy had merit, when he rallied well up the passing lane despite losing momentum when locking wheels 130 metres out.

And in his previous start, at Cambridge, Butcher drove the perfect race on Frankie, saving him up for one sweeping run from the back, hitting the lead 50 metres out, only to be swamped on the line by Claude.

With three of Lincoln Farms’ other runners, Leo Lincoln, Onyx Shard and Seasidestar, pitted against strong Sires’ Stakes heat opposition, the stable’s next best chance could be Beaudiene Rocknroll in the eighth race.

The three-year-old’s form has really turned around since he has been able to lead, his latest two Cambridge efforts thirds behind Miki Miksta and Cyren Shard.

“He likes to lead,” says Green. “He relaxes better in front and drops the bit. In behind he gets a bit fierce. He should lead again from three and he’ll hopefully run on better this time.”

Leo Lincoln (Andre Poutama) will need luck from an inside second row draw in a strong Sires’ Stakes heat. PHOTO: Ange Bridson.Leo Lincoln (Andre Poutama) will need luck from an inside second row draw in a strong Sires’ Stakes heat. PHOTO: Ange Bridson.Relying on luck

Leo Lincoln will be relying on luck in the first northern Sires’ Stakes heat for the two-year-old colts and geldings, drawn the inside of the second row.

“The draw isn’t ideal, especially racing the best colts around, so we won’t be holding our breath. But you can get lucky from those draws. I’d rather be there than out wide.

“He didn’t go too bad last time, he just got too far back from his wide draw.”

Onyx Star, on the other hand, has drawn perfectly on the pole in the fillies’ Sires’ Stakes heat so will get her chance.

But Green knows she will have to improve on her two starts back from a spell, when seventh and eighth, without raising hopes.

“She had a reasonable trip last time but when they sprinted she was left flat-footed.

“She’s better than that. She probably needed the run. She had a bit of a setback with the virus and we had to back off her. She’s just taking a bit longer to get race fit.”

Seasidestar, a newcomer to the stable, has a niggly draw out in six and Green says he’ll know more about her after the race.

“We’re still in the dark a bit with her but she’s got a bit of speed.”

Seasidestar, who won and ran fourth in two starts for the Telfer stable, finished at the rear of her workout last Friday but Green says to disregard that.

“I tried her in a single spreader and it didn’t work - she got on one knee quite badly. She’ll wear both spreaders on Thursday.

“I drove her myself this morning and she felt quite good but she’s in against a really good field.”

Green had been hoping Major Achievement would draw a good marble on Thursday, after a strong workout last Friday, but the outside of the gate in the second race will make things very tough for him.

“He’ll need a bit of luck from there but you never know.

“He always seems to find some way to get himself beaten but he’s going to win one soon, it’s just a matter of when.”

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.”

Dan Costello Race Photography