Narissa can take early scalp in drivers’ series on Saturday night with our boy Argyle
Argyle looks ready to give Queensland rep Narissa McMullen a good leg-up in Saturday night’s Australian female drivers’ championship at Albion Park.
Lincoln Farms’ improver lines up in the third of six heats on the night for the 12 invited drivers, two from each of the six states.
And moving from the second row last week to three on the starting grid this time, Argyle could well give the local lass an all-the-way win.
Trainer Mark Dux says the draw will be a big help for Argyle who will be fitter in his third run this prep and is clearly the highest rated horse in the field.
“We’ll use his gate speed and I think he’s a good chance to cross the inside pair. Narissa is very good at getting them off the gate and then it will just be a matter of whether she holds.
“Jaccka Wally, who has drawn outside her, is very fast and, if it burns, she might have to take a trail. But at least we’ll be on the fence.”
Dux says he’s very pleased with how Argyle has bounced out of last week’s run, when he enjoyed the one-one trail for much of the way before finishing a 13 metre third to runaway winner The High Commander.
“He kept coming last week but just didn’t let down and dash. Angus (Garrard) said he’d like to have seen him sprint a bit.”
Dux noted, however, that The High Commander paced only a fraction of a second slower (0.2s) mile rate than Targaryen, the winner of the higher rated band 4 to band 2 race.
“I think Argyle is still learning how to put it together and he trained really nicely this morning, he felt really sharp.”
McMullen, 28, sister to the state’s leading driver Pete McMullen, has a terrific record with 1285 winners to her name and is a former Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship winner.
Dux is not so confident that Captain Nemo can help Victorian Ellen Tormey as much in the opening heat, race two.
Tormey, 32, who has 920 career wins to her credit, has the job ahead of her with Nemo outclassed and outdrawn.
“Nothing’s going for him,” Dux said. “I was hoping to get him into an easier race. He’s quite badly off here, the lowest rated and a band 4 horse against some who are band 1 and band 2.
“And he’s going to find it tough from six on the gate. If you were a punter you wouldn’t think he’s got any hope but knowing how well he trained this morning I think he’ll still go all right.
“I’m super happy with him. He always trains well but that’s as good as he’s trained today.”
Dux wasn’t disappointed in Nemo’s run last week when he weakened to sixth after sitting parked throughout.
“He only weakened the last little bit. I probably shouldn’t have run him either. Because he always races so tough it’s best if you give him two runs then back off him.
“I just don’t know what to do with him at the start on Saturday. I don’t want to kill him but you get nothing if you go right back.”
Tommy’s terrible draw
That precise scenario is facing Tommy Lincoln in the fifth race where he has drawn the outside of the arm.
“Last time they had a random draw he drew six of six. This time he’s drawn seven of seven.”
Dux says with so much speed inside him, Tommy will have to go back.
“We’ll be trying to get him back off the gate, he’s much better if he relaxes and gets on a helmet. But it’s a question of how far back he’ll be. He doesn’t need to be falling out.”
Dux says it’s a shame the draw has virtually taken Tommy out of play because he’s racing in a purple vein of form, running another gallant second last week behind Turn It Up, clocking a mile rate of 1:52.51.
“That was his race last week. If Governor Jujon hadn’t charged out I think he would have won it.”
Instead, Tommy Lincoln had to really use some petrol to hold the front, running the fastest opening quarter in the field of 27.23.
Tommy reached a top speed of 59.26km/h, a mark only topped by Governor Jujon who attacked him so hard he hit 60.61 km/h.
“They had to back off after that which allowed Turn It Up (top speed of 56.7km/h) to whip round and lead.
“But he (Mathew Neilson) used his head and realised he had to drive to run second, he couldn’t have run his second quarter in 28.
“Tommy is going terrific and he, too, trained really well this monring.”
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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’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.”