Our Tommy runs out of his skin - and nearly out of his hopples - but it’s all uphill from here
A brave run by Tommy Lincoln saw him earn big points on the opening night of the Interdominion at Albion Park last night, lucky to escape a potential calamity when one of his hopples broke.
But while Lincoln Farms’ six-year-old emerged unscathed with a nice points buffer going into Tuesday’s second round, trainer Mark Dux knows it will all get a lot harder from now on.
Everything went to Dux’s script for Tommy Lincoln in the opening heat when he was able to cross to the lead, then trail hot favourite Future Assured, before challenging strongly up the straight to finish three metres second.
“It was a nice run considering he’d had only two trials leading in and, for an inkling, Mathew (Neilson) thought he had a sneaky hope of catching the winner.
“He made a little ground, maybe a metre, but we were so lucky that nothing happened in the run as he came back with one of the loops of a hopple broken off one side. It was lucky the other side didn’t break or it could have come right down.”
The race was run at a blistering speed over the last 800 metres, despite the rain-affected track, Future Assured’s 53.7 the fastest of the four pacing heats.
And a brutal third quarter of 26.6, again easily the fastest of the night, saw the two other favourites Spirit Of St Louis and Rock N Roll Doo unable to make ground from the back, fnishing sixth and seventh.
That, despite Rock N Roll Doo being credited with the fastest second quarter, 28.7 and third quarter, 26.47.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are, you can only run so fast,” Dux said. “And when the leaders are coming home in 53.7 and 27.1 and you’re trying to make ground out wide from the back it’s a tough ask for any horse.
“That’s why we wanted to find the fence. Even if you’re in the one-one you’ve still got to come three wide at some stage.”
The Albion Park racing pattern was further underscored when $151 outsider Kanena Provlima held on for third, after sitting parked most of the way.
Gate three on Tuesday
Luckily, Tommy has again drawn the front line on Tuesday, when he will leave from three against Grand Final favourite Leap To Fame (two the second row) and certain leader Spirit Of St Louis (gate two).
But while Dux says three is obviously better than, say, seven for Tommy, the fact he has no chance of crossing Spirit Of St Louis makes things awkward.
“We’ve got to come out a little bit as Tommy isn’t the kind of horse you can drag back. We’ve tried that and he starts to fight you and cuts his air off.
“We’ll roll out, play it by ear, and hope for some cover. It would be nice to finish top five and keep our points up.
“Spirit Of St Loius will lead and I’m picking as soon as they settle, Leap To Fame will come round.
“I still think Leap To Fame is the one to beat in the final but the barrier draw will be everything, they’re all beatable.
“It’s only going to get harder from here for Tommy because the longer trips don’t suit him as much.”
While Tommy has won at 2138 metres, the distance of Tuesday’s heats, Dux knows he will struggle over Saturday’s 2680 metres.
“I’ll drive him cold on Saturday and it will come down to getting a bit of luck.”
But it’s so far, so good with Tommy.
“We got home early last night. He was on the truck driving out when Better Eclipse won the heat after Tommy’s. We would have been home by 8.30 and he ate up everything. He’s come through the run well.”
Favourites draw badly
The series favourites have all drawn badly in Tuesday’s two other heats
- In the first heat, opening night winner Swayzee starts from the tricky inside second row spot, Future Assured is four on the second row and Rock N Roll Doo is again on the outside of the arm.
- The second heat will see first night winner Better Eclipse leave from four on the second row and Blacksadance from the inside of the second line while gate flyer Turn It Up is ideally drawn in the pole position.
What the stewards reported
- I Cast No Shadow was inclined to strike its own sulky wheels with its hind legs during the race.
- Rock N Roll Doo was inclined to hang in and race roughly at various stages. Trainer Michael Stanley advised the gelding was not suited by the adverse weather conditions and failed to handle the rain-affected track. A veterinary examination failed to reveal any abnormalities other than a slow post-race recovery.
- Blacksadance raced three wide with cover in the early stages and when unsuccessful in obtaining a forward position was restrained to the rear.
- Turn It Up dropped an off side knee boot at the 600 metres which may have placed the gelding at some disadvantage thereafter.
- Our Money Rocks hung out during the score-up and at various stages of the race.
Out of competition blood and hair samples were taken throughout the week from horses engaged in the Interdominion series. Stewards attended raceday stables and accompanied selected runners to the racecourse.
Pre-race swabs samples were taken from:
Heat one: Future Assured, Uptown Beachgirl, Rock N Roll Doo, Spirit Of St Louis.
Heat two: Captain Shuffles, Better Eclipse, Classie Washington, Betterzipit.
Heat three: Leap To Fame, Deus Ex, Nerano.
Heat four: Swayzee, Turn It Up, Manila Playboy, Tims A Trooper, Kosimo.
Post-race samples were taken from all heat winners and second placegetters.
Tuesday’s pacing heats
Tuesday’s trotting heats
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Our runners this week
Saturday night at Albion Park
Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them
Friday night at Auckland
Race 2: Frisco Bay
“He obviously needed the run last week. He pulled his way round the field and sat outside the leader but he couldn’t cop a run like that first-up and got tired. The ability is there, whether he’s fit enough or not we’ll find out. But I expect him to go well, the three draw is much better than last week.”
Race 2: Lenny Lincoln
“He’ll probably need a race but he’s capable of running a slot. He’s unlucky not to have won a race, all three of his seconds were good. He’s got a bit better with each of his trials this time in and he got home well last Saturday, after coming widest on the turn.”
Race 3: Obadiah Dragon
“The way the race was run at Cambridge last week, his effort wasn’t bad at all. Moni (Monika Ranger) said he felt strong and, if he’d been a few slots closer, he would have been right in it. He’ll be improved for the run.”
Race 3: Leo Lincoln
“He’s very consistent - he’s only missed a couple of cheques. But he’s another just coming back and should improve with the run.”