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Horse Racing: CRY FREEDOM FOR FRANKIE; Johnston colt can run rivals ragged in Solario.

Byline: By Garry Owen

EVERY time I watch Mel Gibson's cry for freedom as he parts company with his entrails at Smithfield, I always reach for the Kleenex and hae a wee dram to toast Braveheart.

Just over 700 years later, another Braveheart, in the shape of trainer Mark Johnston, can go to war with American-bred colt Cry Of Freedom in Sandown's Solario Stakes.

Owner Sheikh Hamdan's son of Godolphin star Street Cry opened his account on his debut over course and distance last month.

Taking on Boys in Blue hotpot Combat Zone (ridden by Frankie), Darryll Holland nosed ahead of the favourite just over a furlong out, and despite edging right, strode clear to win by three and a half lengths.

That form may not amount to very much but it was certainly a nice introduction for the youngster.

Taking on some very useful types on his next start in a Listed race at Newbury, Frankie took over on board and bossed the race from the front, quickening up in nice style in the final two furlongs on the rain-softened ground to forge clear of the Barry Hills-trained newcomer Mustaqer.

He's taking on some highly-regarded two-year-olds now and some lofty reputations will have to be revised one way or another.

I expect Frankie to ride similar race to his Newbury victory, winding it up slowly from the front and grinding out a gutsy win up the famous Sandown incline. He looks a typical battle-hardened Johnston horse already, and if there's any flaws in his rivals' makeup, this long-striding colt looks just the boy to expose them

Braveheart, sorry, Mark Johnston took this prize two years ago with Drumfire and with entries to the Racing Post Trophy and Dewhurst on the sideboard I reckon CRY OF FREEDOM(2.35) will be a tough nut to crack this afternoon.

One win from 15 starts on the turf hardly tees you up for a confident punt, but having said that, BARSHIBA(2.05) has been taking on some good yins and not running too badly. She ran a blinding race for Richard Quinn in the Summer Mile at Ascot, making anonsense of her 50-1 odds to get to three parts of a length of former Aidan O'Brien inmate Archipenko.

She followed that with another second in a Listed race back at Ascot before finishing a respectable seven lengths off the winner Goldikova in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville at the start of the month. Not the most straightforward of rides, Quinny knows her well and she should give a good account of herself in this company.

Akamikaze 15-runner five furlong sprint handicap at Chester is just the thing to steady the nerves after a tough Friday evening's carousing. I'm looking no further than John Spearing's in-form gelding EQUULEUS PICTOR(2.20). Jack Dean has built a good partnership with the four-year-old and they are chasing a treble following some solid performances in the last six weeks. This has not gone unnoticed by the evil eye of the handicapper but he won a shade cosily at Windsor last time and there may be more to come. Drawn nicely, a few showers round the Roodeye wouldn't harm his chances any.

I always thought NEW GUINEA(2.50) would make up into a nice horse when a youngster with Michael Jarvis but he has never really fulfilled his promise, partly due to being in the grip of the handicapper I believe. He won this race as a three-year-old, beating the Godolphin-trained Sunday Symphony in the process. The son of Fantastic Lightran a cracker off a mark of 105 to finish fifth in the November Handicap, beaten four and a half lengths by Malt Or Mash, before heading off for the sunnier climes of Nad al Sheba. Four solid runs in handicaps there over the winter have ensured his carrot allowance is kept ticking over and I'm sure there's a decent race in him. Jamie Spencer, who's been falling out with more trainers and owners than you could shake a whip at, is an interesting booking and they might be worth a guinea or twa.

One such trainer who vented his wrath on the wee man is Luca Cumani who has a strong hand in the Heritage Handicap with Swop (Dettori) and ASK THE BUTLER(Dane O'Neill) (3.10). As you are probably aware, I did my orchestra stalls on the four-year-old in a ladies' race at York in June, when the trainer's fairly attractive wean Francesca did not shine in the saddle.

Fast forward to Newmarket last month and the Butler delivers the goods under George Baker. This is certainly tougher, but the canny Luca seldom goes to work in handicaps without the proper ammo and with few miles on the clock, dare I say the Butler's an improving sort!

Anyone following the Hannon stable this season would certainly not be feeling the effects of the current credit crunch and are most probably lighting up their finest Cubans with pounds 20 notes whilst swilling Krug '64. If you have not yet joined the gravy train, it might not be too late, so on board ORDNANCE ROW(3.25) who won this race two years ago coming from the No8 cage in a 16-runner field. The son of Mark Of Esteem has taken a massive leap up the ratings since then but he proved himself better than ever when landing a Group 3 at Salisbury two weeks ago and there may be more to come. The No12 is not ideal but Pat Dobbs is no mug and won't be panicked into a barging match. Probably better with some cut in the ground, he's another who would appreciate a few showers, but he has won on good to firm and I can't see it becoming overly fast round the Roodeye today.

Malcolm Saunders has a grand sort in CRIMSON FERN(3.45) and the four-year-old is worth an interest in an open sprint. the chestnut filly has won twice over course and distance and comes into tady's race off a career high mark but in great heart and coming from an excellent draw. Tom McLaughlin knows the filly well and I'm expecting a big run following her fifth in the Shergar Cup Dash at Ascot where she didn't enjoy the best of passages.

At the Curragh tomorrow, Seamus Heffernan is quietly confident of bagging his third Irish Group One success of the season when he teams up with AGAIN (4.15) in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and I see no reason to disabuse him of that notion.

Having already won the Irish 1000 Guineas on Halfway To Heaven and the Irish Derby on Frozen Fire for Aidan O'Brien, Heffernan has landed the ride on the David Wachman-trained Again. Johnny Murtagh, who partnered the filly to victory in the Group Two Debutante Stakes at Leopardstown two weeks ago, is serving a suspension.


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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 30, 2008
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