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Tough opposition on Saturday night but Al’s hoping Franco Nandor can measure up

Franco Nandor faces a strong field at Albion Park on Saturday night but trainer Al Barnes is keen to see how Lincoln Farms’ new Queensland import measures up.

Most of the three-year-olds in the eighth race have won far more races than Franco Nandor, and gone much faster, but Barnes says with his ability to sit on the speed he shouldn’t be far away.

“I don’t think a fast time would worry him - he was very keen when he ran 1:56 last week - and he might surprise us a bit.”

Franco Nandor was having his first start in Brisbane last Friday night when second at long odds to the $1.22 hotpot The Raconteur.

Hunted hard out of the gate, Barnes got half a length on the favourite before having to pull back and he just managed to squeeze into the trail ahead of the second row horse who rushed up to try to claim the spot.

The spilt second manoeuvre was the subject of a protest and ended up costing Barnes a $300 fine for tightening but it gave Franco Nandor the run of the race.

Franco Nandor has died on his run but is still only two metres second to hotpot The Raconteur.Franco Nandor has died on his run but is still only two metres second to hotpot The Raconteur.And in the run home the three-year-old lodged a likely challenge before just “running out of puff in the last 75 metres” and finishing two metres second.

“He was underdone last week and it was my first drive on him,” says Barnes.

“He didn’t appreciate me hitting him on the bum either so this time I’ll try to hold him together and make him feel brave rather than letting his mouth go.”

Barnes says if Sydneysider The Raconteur had been in this week’s race he’d have started quite short in the betting so he doesn’t believe Franco Nandor is out of it.

“It’s a strong race but there are no derby horses in there - except maybe Watts Up Sunshine (10 wins and six placings from 22 starts) - but they say Nandor’s tough.

“I was going to put him in next week’s Redcliffe Derby but it looks like Krug and a few other good ones will be running there so we’ll see how he measures up on Saturday.

“I’m not sure if he can cross from four but we’ll run the gate and see how quick he is. Hopefully we can get across to the rail and take a sit. If he can sit on the speed I’d like to think he can run top four or five.

“His trackwork was good during the week.”

Franco Nandor races at 10.41pm NZ time at Albion Park on Saturday night.Franco Nandor races at 10.41pm NZ time at Albion Park on Saturday night.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Cambridge

Race 3: Lincoln Lou
6.39pm

“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
7.31pm

“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”

Race 8: Onyx Shard
8.55pm

“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
8.55pm

“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
8.55pm

“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
9.22pm

“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

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.”

Race Images - Harness