Sugar Apple, left, and Nirvana Franco are both feeling good for Cambridge on Thursday.

Sugar Apple and Nirvana Franco like chalk and cheese but both fancied at Cambridge

Sugar Apple and Nirvana Franco are made from two entirely different moulds but both look excellent chances for Lincoln Farms at Cambridge on Thursday night.

On the one hand there’s Sugar Apple, a comparatively light little bloke who cost next to nothing, was one of the first of his crop to show speed, and gets excitable on raceday.

Then there’s Nirvana Franco, a lovely big filly whose regal pedigree saw her come with a $100,000 price tag, who has taken plenty of time to hit the racetrack and only does what she has to.

Sugar Apple, who has already had five starts and led the Harness Emerald Two-Year-Old field at the Jewels in June, will be a hot favourite to take the fifth race for trainer Ray Green.

The half brother to Lincoln Farms’ Queensland Derby winner American Dealer will enjoy a massive drop in grade after a solid performance at Auckland last week in his first race for a couple of months.

Sugar Apple finished close up sixth last start at Auckland after getting no favours in the running.Sugar Apple finished close up sixth last start at Auckland after getting no favours in the running.Trapped three wide in the early running, he had to be taken back to the tail end by David Butcher before jumping on the three wide train to get into the race.

He was seen putting in his best work late in the run home to finish sixth but only 1.8 lengths behind impressive winning debutant Riverboy Ben.

“He was getting home well last week in a blanket finish, one of a few horses in the race who had bad luck stories,” Green said.

“He’s been racing better horses and would really want to win this or at least get a cheque.”

While Green says Sugar Apple still has plenty of strengthening to do, from four he should be able to find the front with relative ease and be hard to roll with Zachary Butcher at the helm.

Sure to be well backed

Nirvana Franco can’t help but be well backed in the second race, punters sure to be drawn to her pedigree even before they see her good looks.

The Bettor’s Delight filly is out of Nearea Franco who won 11 races including the Group I Queen Of Hearts and clocked 1:54.4 in winning the Four-year-old Diamond at Cambridge’s 2008 Harness Jewels.

She left 32-race winner Nike Franco, a multiple Group I winner in Australia who has since clocked 1:48 in the United States.

The filly, who was Green’s number one choice at the Christchurch yearling sale, is also a full sister to last season’s highly rated three-year-old Shan Noble.

Nirvana Franco has the pedigree and the looks.Nirvana Franco has the pedigree and the looks.“She’s a lovely big filly,” says Green. “It will be very interesting to see how she presents.

“She’s never been off the place since we bought her and, even though she doesn’t do much wrong, I’d like to see her get round in her first race with no dramas.

“The race will wake her up but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her win.”

Green has taken his time with Nirvana Franco who has had four trials and five workouts, placed in all three this prep.

In her latest workout she trailed before finding the line smartly behind New Tricks.

“She’s not one to over-extened herself - she only does what she has to - but the MO of the Bettor’s Delights is to lift their game on raceday.”

From gate three Zachary Butcher should give her every chance against what looks to be a very mediocre lot.

Our runners this week

Saturday night at Albion Park


Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

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.”

Dan Costello Race Photography