Argyle leads all the way and staves off Chimichurri at Alexandra Park. PHOTO: Megan Liefting/Race Images.

Draw favours Argyle on Thursday night but Riverman Sam’s not out of it either

Argyle and Riverman Sam give Lincoln Farms a strong hand in Thursday night’s feature race at Cambridge and trainer Ray Green warns there’s little between them.

“You’d have to lean towards Argyle on the draws but I don’t think he’s any better than Riverman Sam,” says Green. “They should both go well.”

From the pole, Argyle has everything in his favour to extend an unbeaten record on the course.

In his first go left-handed there he led throughout from the same draw and two weeks later he repeated the dose from six on the gate, which allowed him to be handy all the way.

Green says a two-month spell after that has seen the horse return even stronger.

“He’s a much improved horse,” says Green, pointing to his latest two efforts at Auckland when he first beat the talented Chimichurri, leading all the way in a 1:55.4 mile rate for 1700 metres, then was best of the same horse’s rivals last time on July 29 despite laying in and hitting several marker pegs round the home turn.

Green has kept the horse up to the mark since and he has performed well in both a trial at Pukekohe on August 12 and a workout last Friday.

In the trial, won by Old Town Road, he finished only two lengths behind his high profile stablemate Copy That when driver Andrew Drake clocked him to run his last 2400 metres in 3:03.5 and 400 in 26.8.

He won his workout last week, against easier opposition, when he was gunned to the lead by Monika Ranger and held on to nose out the capable Purdon/Phelan filly Artisan.

Riverman Sam has won four of his six races at Cambridge. PHOTO: Chanelle Lawson.Riverman Sam has won four of his six races at Cambridge. PHOTO: Chanelle Lawson.Riverman Sam won’t have the same fitness of Argyle, not having raced for a month while getting over a virus.

When scoped after failing in his last run at Auckland, mucous was found in his throat, explaining why he failed to run up to his previous third behind Lincoln Farms’ best three-year-old Simply Sam.

“He didn’t have the virus too bad but he missed a little bit of work,” says Green. “He’s trained on well since though.”

Riverman Sam was also a workout winner for Ranger last Friday when he dispatched a stronger field than that which Argyle faced, after enjoying the one-one for most of the last lap.

In a busy finish he had a neck on Bettor Listen with another half head to Raven Banner and two lengths to Lady Of The Light, closing in 57.8 and 27.4.

“He’s a pretty good horse and if things went right for him, he should be right there.”

Riverman Sam, who is raced by Phil and Delia Cook, boasts four wins at Cambridge, two of them over Thursday night’s 2200 metres.

From three on the second row his chances will depend on some luck, which he could get following out a go-forward runner in Private Eye.

Lincoln River, who now has 11 supermarket owner-operators in his ownership, will also be relying on luck earlier in the night.

A strong closing second behind The Bizzness at Alexandra Park last Thursday, he is stranded on the inside of the second row behind the inexperienced Blaze On.

“He’s at the mercy of the ones in front of him but if he gets a run at them, he’s the one to beat,” says Green. “He finished well at Auckland last week.”

Brianna Thomas … drove Major Grace to win her workout last week. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.Brianna Thomas … drove Major Grace to win her workout last week. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.Green says Major Grace may need the run when she resumes after a two-month break in the sixth race.

“But she’s very honest and she also trialled well last week.”

Driven by the stable’s Brianna Thomas, Major Grace was wide on the first bend but pressed on to lead and was too good for Bettor Than Bronze at the finish of 2050 metres, run in a 2:01.1 mile rate.

Major Grace ran her best race at her last start at Cambridge when a late closing third behind Sylvia Kay and Precious Belle from the same gate six as Thursday night.

Riverboy Ben’s form in the fourth race doesn’t inspire confidence but his last-start seventh at Auckland last week was actually an improvement.

The three-year-old came from last with a tidy marker-hugging run in the stretch to finish only three lengths behind winner Private Eye.

“That was better and he has a decent draw. If he gets a half decent trip he won’t be far away. There’s nothing wonderful in the field.”

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