Northview Hustler is likely to debut in the Flashing Red, a race named after the dual NZ Cup winner, pictured here scoring in 2007.

Red light flashing - Hustler set to debut on Saturday week in race named after cup hero

Trainer Al Barnes is set to throw Northview Hustler in the deep end for his Queensland debut and tackle a feature race he’s always wanted to win.

Hustler had his first fast work today since arriving in Queensland and pleased Barnes, who has his sights on the A$22,000 Flashing Red, a discretionary handicap over 2600 metres from a stand on Saturday week.

“We’re just getting to know him but, so long as his fitness levels are where we want, it looks a good race for him.

“Being rated only c6 over here he’ll get in on the front line and they’ll have to catch him.’’

Barnes expects the race to draw a good quality field, with the likes of Colt Thirty One and Saloon Passage, but says it will give him a good idea of whether Hustler can win a race like the Blacks A Fake, Queensland’s marquee event on July 20.

“He’s eligible for easier races and that’s the debate we had. Do we put him in a weak race for an easy kill or throw him in the deep end?’’

Barnes says he’d love to win the Flashing Red, named after the old iron horse who won the 2006 and 2007 New Zealand Cups for Tim and Anthony Butt.

Barnes knew the horse well after preparing him for 12 months in Brisbane when he was private trainer for part-owner Stu Hunter.

“He ran second in a Victoria Cup and should have won the Hunter Cup when he got on a wheel at the top of the straight and ran third.’’

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 4: Copy That

“He’s certainly got some speed. The race was all over by the time he got going last week and James never pulled the plugs. Clearly he’s the best horse in the field on ability. But there are no guarantees he’ll behave.’’

Race 4: Tommy Lincoln

“He’s trialling well but I won’t be expecting too much from gate six. He was a big, gangly, weak thing but he’s strengthened up a lot this time in.”

Race 4: Billy Lincoln

“It’s his first race, and first time away from Pukekohe and he’s drawn the inside of the second row so logic tells you he has a few things against him. Until six weeks ago he was extremely average but he’s progressively got better and better.”

Race 8: Governor’s Bay

“He had a tough trip last time so it wasn’t surprising he weakened. He’s training well and this field looks a lot easier.”

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Friday at Albion Park

Race 1: Lincoln’s Girl
2.42pm NZ time

“It’s not a bad field but she’s as good as anything else in there and looks a top two chance with a little luck from the second row. She went super last time - I didn’t know how brave she’d be when I saw her caught in the chair but Hayden was very happy with how she went.”

Race 9: Vasari
7.22pm NZ time

“He should get out a lot better this week with Hayden back driving and we’ll be trying to cross the pole marker. The horse is really well and he’ll win one soon. It’s a good line-up but he should run top three.’’

Anthony Butt

Ants’ comments

Saturday night at Menangle

Race 7: Lets Strike The Gold
10.22pm NZ time

“This is a difficlut race for him to win and I’ll be driving him quietly from that barrier. It’s been nearly nine months since he raced and he’s going to need a couple of runs to get his race fitness.”

Race Images - Harness