Queensland champion Colt Thirty One claims Northview Hustler late at Albion Park tonight.

Northview Hustler runs out of ammo close to the line - Colt Thirty One pops him in thriller

Trainer Al Barnes is looking forward to the next few weeks with Northview Hustler after the game little black pushed Queensland star Colt Thirty One to a long neck in his first start for more than three months at Albion Park tonight.

The Hustler easily found the lead for stand-in driver Pete McMullen and looked to have the hot favourite in trouble turning for home when he shot clear.

But Grant Dixon’s headliner, who was parked from the bell, rallied bravely up the markers to nail the Hustler late, with McMullen reporting the Lincoln Farms horse just peaked on his run.

“But that was to be expected in his first run back,” said Barnes. “He ran home in 54.6 and it took Colt Thirty One to beat him so it was an awesome run.”

Barnes is excited about the amount of improvement still in the Hustler as immediately after the race his heart rate was high at 108.

“When he’s spot on it’s 80 to 85 and drops to the high 60s after 10 minutes. So that’s a very good sign.

Al Barnes … Northview Hustler has so much improvement left in him.Al Barnes … Northview Hustler has so much improvement left in him.“He’ll keep improving and I’d say it will take three runs before he hits his peak.”

Providing the Hustler pulls up well and eats, Barnes will take him to Redcliffe next Saturday night for the A$25,630 Gold Cup, a standing start test over 2613 metres, which will suit him even more than tonight’s 2138 metres.

“If I’m not happy with him this week we can bypass Redcliffe but I think he’ll be right.”

Barnes said he wasn’t surprised the Hustler showed so much gate speed tonight.

“We’ve always known he had gate speed but we’ve seldom had the opportunity to use it from bad draws.”

Barnes noticed that whereas the Hustler is usually very placid before his races, tonight he was very playful, indicating he was a happy horse.

“Pete was rapt with his effort and the horse pulled up great.

“He’ll have a pretty easy week. I’ll give him a quiet hitout on Wednesday and he should be spot on.”

Colt Thirty One, who has now won 37 of his 64 starts for more than A$850,000, clocked 2:31.8 for the 2138 metres, a mile rate of 1:54.2, exactly the same time Northview Hustler clocked in winning his last race last September.

Third-placed Subtle Delight was 4 metres behind the Hustler in third.

Northview Hustler returned great odds on the New Zealand tote, paying $3.30 for a place, a great return for his loyal Kiwi owners who include the Waikato’s Four Legs syndicate, whose main man Carl Officer was celebrating his birthday.

Pete McMullen blasts Northview Hustler out of the gate to claim an early lead. PHOTO: Dan Costello.Pete McMullen blasts Northview Hustler out of the gate to claim an early lead. PHOTO: Dan Costello.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Wednesday night at Auckland

Race 1: Apieceoflou

“He’s really only in the field to get experience. He’s not up to the other two at this stage. He’s a big, slow maturing horse. He keeps improving without being spectacular but he’s a real trier.”

Race 1: Captain Nemo

“He’s been going well at the workouts without winning. He and Franco Nandor are both nice colts and I expect them to develop into tidy three-year-olds.”

Race 1: Franco Nandor

“He’s won his last two workouts but has a tricky draw and there are a couple of others in the race who go well. He’ll definitely improve with the outing.”

Race 4: American Dealer

“I like him as a horse and he’s likely to take the most improvement out of his latest trial because of his temperament. He’s a laid back individual and looks the best of our lot.”

Race 4: Larry Lincoln

“Larry’s very fast and he’s as forward as the other fella but I don’t know how tough he is yet. The draw’s a bit tricky.”

Race 4: Man Of Action

“He trialled super last Friday and never goes a bad race. We chucked him in the deep end with the bear cats in his last few runs and I think he’ll go well in this field. He’s on the up and is a much stronger horse now.”

Race 7: Copy That

“He’s the class horse of the field but he won’t be on top of his game yet. I’ll be instructing Maurice not to send him on a mission, especially as it’s over 2700 metres. He’ll still go well but I’m not expecting him to just line up and win. I couldn’t label him first-up.”

Whales Harness