Just Wing It adds to Green’s impeccable score card for Merv - but he has a new challenge
He did it first with Steam Punk.
Then it was Zealand Star.
Last night at Cambridge he added Just Wing It to the list.
And now Lincoln Farms’ trainer Ray Green has been set a new challenge by leading Australian owner Merv Butterworth.
It’s all about turning non-winners into winners - and in the last few months Green has coached Steam Punk to a win, transformed the once nervous Zealand Star into a record-breaker, and nurtured one-time knee-knocker Just Wing It into a $1.40 winner for the punters.
No sooner had Steam Punk been put on a plane to Australia last weekend than another Butterworth problem child appeared on the doorstep at Pukekohe in the form of southerner Governor’s Bay.
And from what Green has gleaned from southern horseman Brent Barclay this could be his greatest test.
“You could say Brent wasn’t glowing in his praise of the horse,’’ says Green.
“In fact he said he didn’t particularly like him. He hangs badly and they’ve tried to correct him but he’s apparently a very difficult horse.’’
Butterworth was quick to buy the five-year-old from Tom Bagrie’s stable last March, impressed by his tough performances at Addington when he won twice then sat packed for the last lap and was only just nutted.
But after being sent south to his southern trainer Brett Gray, Goverenor’s Bay disappointed and in his last three starts with Lauren Pearson managed only a fourth and two thirds.
Butterworth had planned to send the horse to Australia but he’s no doubt hoping Green’s Pukekohe clinic can diagnose his problems first.
“We’ll see how we go,’’ says Green. “He’s a very big, tall horse, he must be verging on 17 hands.’’
Green’s pre-race assessment of Just Wing It proved pretty much on the mark last night as the horse, backed as if unbeatable, got home by only a neck after enjoying a one-one sit behind stablemate Phil Bromac for the last lap.
“He’s no superstar but he was good enough to get the job done.
“It wasn’t a wonderful field though and I’m not sure where we’ll go from here.’’
Just Wing It clocked a sedate 2:45.8 for the mobile 2200 metres, the race developing into only a sprint home with the closing 800 in 57.9 and 400 in 28.2.
Green fielded a call from Butterworth straight after the race but, being in charge of the horse, didn’t have time to discuss the options for Just Wing It.
“He was pretty happy. Merv loves his winners. If he was mine I’d be pushing the horse to Australia straight away as with our handicapping system you just don’t know where you are.’’
Green says New Zealand should adopt the new handicapping system being introduced in Victoria where horses aren’t penalised so heavily for each win and points earned correlate to stakes won.
“And we should be eliminating the handicappers’ discretion like they are doing over there. People shouldn’t have to guess. It should all be black and white.’’
Just Wing It incurred seven rating points to 55 for winning last night and earned just $5755.
More news in Harness
Al on today’s demolition: What will Trojan do when he’s fully fit and stops waiting for them?
Ants: Make Way ‘won with a leg in the air’ - and there’s plenty more in store
The incredible hulk Governor’s Bay steps out at Auckland on Friday with Ray only guessing
More tests for Zealand Star after sudden lameness baffles Green
Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them
Thursday night at Penrith
Race 4: Vasari
9.33pm NZ time
“He’s been going good races from bad draws and, if he can lead from one, he’ll be awfully hard to beat.’’
Race 6: Make Way
10.33pm NZ time
“He seems back to his best again. He’s really bright in himself and is bouncing around. He had an easy time for a while with his cough, and it’s possible he’ll need the run, but he’s not far away and from the front he’d be hard to beat.’’
Friday at Albion Park
Race 3: Trojan Banner
4.57pm NZ time
“The draw is horrible and makes it very tough for him. The horse in front of him is a slug off the gate and if we follow him we could end up three or four deep. At least over 2138 metres you have a little time up your sleeve. You can grab hold, pop off, give them a little breather in the second quarter, then take it as it comes. He has improved greatly since his last run but he’s still not at his peak and I’m reluctant to pressure him too much second-up by looping the field.’’
Friday night at Auckland
Race 4: Just Wing It
“If he can land a good trip (from five) there’s no reason why he can’t pay another dividend. He’s gone three honest races so far. The winner of his race last week (Benson Boys) ran 2:40 and they don’t go much faster than that so to run on for third was a good effort.”
Race 5: Governor’s Bay
“I like the horse, he’s got the raw ability to win a race or two up here. He blew like hell after his workout on Saturday which tells me he tried hard and he’s a bit porky. He’s put on a lot of weight in a couple of weeks. It’s his first time right handed on Friday and I’ll be running him with pull down blinds after he knocked off at the trials.’’
Race 9: Hilary Barry
“Mark Purdon’s monsters aren’t there which gives everyone else a chance but she’ll find it tough from the draw. Unless she’s very lucky it’s not a good scenario. If Andrew goes forward and uses her petrol it will be hard and if he goes back she’ll get nothing.’’