By Duane Ranger
Al Barnes believes one of New Zealand’s best trainers has reignited his career, so much so, he reckons he now has a realistic chance of winning the prestigious TAB Queensland 3yo Derby on July 20.
The Tallegalla horseman, who has never won a Group One event, made those comments after the former Ray Green trained Trojan Banner recorded his fifth consecutive Albion Park win on Tuesday (April 23).
“He’s been unbelievable since he arrived here. He hasn’t been beaten yet and his most recent win was again effortless, after working early in the race.
“I actually went to New Zealand six months ago to buy another horse and only met Ray for the first time then. We’ve struck up a good friendship since.
“He’s put a lot of faith in me since then and in many ways he has resurrected my career. I was just your ‘average run-of-the-mill’ trainer with average horses. Now thanks to Ray and John I have some quality animals in my barn. I can’t thank them enough,” Barnes said.
‘John’ is John Street, the managing director of Lincoln Farms in Pukekohe, South Auckland. He is one of New Zealand’s biggest owner/breeders and has produced many Group winners including his flagship pacer - Sir Lincoln - the 2012 Auckland Cup winner and the 2010 NZ 3yo Pacing Colt-of-the-Year.
Green trained Sir Lincoln to win 21 of his 57 starts and $663,601 in stakes.
It was at the chance meeting six months ago that landed Barnes his first former Green-trained pacer – the 4-year-old Sir Lincoln gelding, Lincoln Road.
“He’s won eight races for us since December. Another one, Lincoln's Girl, has also won a race for us in three starts in April.
"We've also got another Bettor's Delight coming from the Green stable. His name is Northview Hustler (eight wins and $127,471) and he will be here soon for the $200,000 'Blacks A Fake' which is also run on Derby night.
“Ray seemed to like what we were doing and now we’ve been racing Trojan Banner since the middle of March. He came to us after winning his last NZ start at Cambridge in January,” Barnes said.
Barnes said he just wanted to do his best for all the Lincoln Farm co-owned horses that came to him.
“They are astute men and have done their homework regarding Queensland racing and its schedule. I’m just fortunate they wanted me to train their horses. There’s talk of perhaps a Sweet Lou 2-year-old coming as well. They have 17 2-year-olds and 21 yearlings, so I’m hoping the association continues for many years yet,” Barnes said.
Lincoln Farms paid $100,000 to Banner Bloodstock (Templeton) for Trojan Banner at the 2017 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch.
He is a black Bettor's Delight colt, and is out of Caitlin Banner (by Christian Cullen), the younger full-sister to the 2005 New Zealand Cup winner, Mainland Banner.
Barnes was confident Trojan Banner would get the job done in Tuesday’s fourth race - the $8,000 Hurrikane Kingcole At Egmont Park Stud C3-C4 Pace.
“They way he’s been working I thought he would just win for fun – and he did. He will probably do him for now. He’s had a busy schedule since coming here so I might spell him and then bring him back for the first of the local Derbies (Queensland) I late January,” Barnes said.
“I think the better weather has helped him. He’s like you he seems to be thriving over here,” he added.
Hayden Barnes won on Tuesday by 2.8m. They paced the 2,238m mobile in 2:33.1 (mile rate 1:55.3) and his sectionals were: 28.4, 30.2, 28.5, and 28.8.
The black colt has now won eight of his 23 starts and banked just under $50,000. His quickest mile rate so far has been 1:54.5, which he recorded at Albion Park on April 12.
"We've got 14 pacers in work and my partner Cassie (Saunders) has two gallopers, and Hayden has three of his horses with us as well.
"Ray has put a new lease of life into my step. It's so good to have a horse like Trojan banner in the barn. He's potentially the best one we have. He can go close in the derbies," said Barnes.
He said Green had told him that Trojan Banner was a much better horse than what his New Zealand form indicated.
“He was too good for Cambridge and not quite good enough to win them regularly at Alexandra Park.”