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Trojan Banner stretches out in training at Pukekohe. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.

Make Way and Trojan Banner can quinella Sires’ Stakes heat at Auckland

It’s the best ’til last at Auckland on Friday night when Lincoln Farms’ pair Make Way and Trojan Banner should fight out the finish of race 10, the fourth Sires’ Stakes heat.

With only five rivals, all but one of them vastly inferior in the ratings, the way looks clear for a stable quinella but ask trainer Ray Green which one he favours most and he’ll waiver.

Neither has the best draw at the 1700 metre start, Trojan Banner in five and Make Way in six, and Green resorts to “whichever one gets the best trip should win.”

“There’s nothing between them. Make Way is stronger than the other horse at this stage but I drove Trojan Banner in work this week and he felt sharper compared with what he’s been.

He finished right there with Make Way at the workouts (there was only a head between the pair) and I think he’s coming to it now.’’

The last-start form digit in the racebook for Trojan Banner reads only five but that disguises a much better run than at first glance.

Badly held up four deep on the markers, he had to come three wide turning in and was taking ground off the leaders in great style near the finish, closing to just 2.5 lengths from winner Red Reactor and photo-finish fellows Make Way and Recco Lover.

Trojan Banner’s last 800 metre sectional of 56.8 was bettered only by the winner who clocked a sizzling 2:40 flat for the 2200 metres.

Make Way, parked early, looked to have that race sewn up until the last few strides after sprinting out of the one-one turning for home and lost no admirers with his head defeat.

“He’s the most reliable of the two,’’ says Green, cautious only about the sprint trip. “When the derby distances come round they will suit him even better.’’

But Make Way, whose main claim to fame so far was a close and rapidly closing fourth behind Another Masterpiece in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in June, has the speed to work into the race at the right time.

“These small fields are tricky. They often turn into just sprints up the straight. If you’re not handy, you can’t win.

“But while Barry Purdon’s horse (Arden Voyager) is drawn to get the best run, if mine get half a trip they’ll be all over him. I think they’re better horses.’’

Recco Lover and Zachary Butcher … hoping to break through on Friday night. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.Recco Lover and Zachary Butcher … hoping to break through on Friday night. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.Consistent but frustrating

Easily Green’s next best winning hope of the night is the consistent but frustrating Recco Lover in the fourth race.

But he will have his work cut out to beat the Barry Purdon-trained On The Cards, a rating 74 horse, compared with Recco’s rating 60.

Recco Lover struggled to match that horse’s speed at the Pukekohe workouts last Saturday when they sprinted on the home bend.

But driver Zachary Butcher reported the horse was fighting his way back into the finish, running third, one and three-quarter lengths away.

Recco Lover has been placed in each of his four races this campaign, less than a length from the winner each time, but disappointed Green in not winning last time when leading out then trailing.

“I don’t think he can put in at both ends. In his best race he did nothing and sprinted home. And I think that’s the best way to drive him on Friday night.

“I know they think a lot of On The Cards but Recco has been as good as him at the trials. He’ll hold his own. It’ll be the one who gets the best trip.’’

Recco Lover has drawn four and On The Cards eight.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 4: Copy That

“He’s certainly got some speed. The race was all over by the time he got going last week and James never pulled the plugs. Clearly he’s the best horse in the field on ability. But there are no guarantees he’ll behave.’’

Race 4: Tommy Lincoln

“He’s trialling well but I won’t be expecting too much from gate six. He was a big, gangly, weak thing but he’s strengthened up a lot this time in.”

Race 4: Billy Lincoln

“It’s his first race, and first time away from Pukekohe and he’s drawn the inside of the second row so logic tells you he has a few things against him. Until six weeks ago he was extremely average but he’s progressively got better and better.”

Race 8: Governor’s Bay

“He had a tough trip last time so it wasn’t surprising he weakened. He’s training well and this field looks a lot easier.”

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Friday at Albion Park

Race 1: Lincoln’s Girl
2.42pm NZ time

“It’s not a bad field but she’s as good as anything else in there and looks a top two chance with a little luck from the second row. She went super last time - I didn’t know how brave she’d be when I saw her caught in the chair but Hayden was very happy with how she went.”

Race 9: Vasari
7.22pm NZ time

“He should get out a lot better this week with Hayden back driving and we’ll be trying to cross the pole marker. The horse is really well and he’ll win one soon. It’s a good line-up but he should run top three.’’

Anthony Butt

Ants’ comments

Saturday night at Menangle

Race 7: Lets Strike The Gold
10.22pm NZ time

“This is a difficlut race for him to win and I’ll be driving him quietly from that barrier. It’s been nearly nine months since he raced and he’s going to need a couple of runs to get his race fitness.”

Race Images - Harness