Ray gives us a few clues on his two newcomers for Auckland on Friday night

Tartan Robyn and Smokinhotcheddar are both place chances when they step out for the first time in trainer Ray Green’s colours at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

Tartan Robyn is the latest of Melbourne owner Merv Butterworth’s Southland team to be sent north while Green has taken over Smokinhotcheddar after the return to Palmerston North of her former trainer, stable driver Andre Poutama.

Green has taken an instant liking to Tartan Robyn, a five race winner whom he describes as “a lovely big horse who seems very honest.”

The six-year-old Bettor’s Delight gelding, who last raced for Robin Swain on New Year’s Eve when fourth at Winton, has trialled twice since arriving at Pukekohe, pleasing Green with his latest effort on January 29.

Ray Green on the phone to owner Merv Butterworth … “Tartan Robyn is a lovely big horse.”Ray Green on the phone to owner Merv Butterworth … “Tartan Robyn is a lovely big horse.”In a strong field, Tartan Robyn showed early speed to lead his eight-horse 2050 metre heat and only just went down to race rival Harness Million winner Aladdin.

Only half a head, a neck and half a neck separated Aladdin, Tartan Robyn, Darling Me and Enjoy Me at the post, with the trip run in a mile rate of 1:59.1 and slick closing sectionals of 56.4 and 27.7. Behind them came Friday’s race rivals Luke John and Jack Ryan.

“The boys down south were all surprised he showed so much gate speed as apparently that’s not one of his fortes,” Green said.

“He’s training and trialling well and should go well on Friday but I’m not expecting him to win. The way he’s been going he feels good enough to win a couple of races up here. That may not be this week but I could see him running a place.”

Smokinhotcheddar, who has drawn two on the second row in the second race, has shown plenty of speed winning two of her 13 starts.

Her recent form line isn’t so impressive but that includes an eighth in Amazing Me’s Group III Northern Breeders’ Stakes and a ninth behind Beyond Words in the Group I Queen Of Hearts.

Smokinhotcheddar hasn’t raced since December 18 but Green ran her in a workout at Pukekohe on January 29 when she finished three lengths fourth behind Alta Sensation.

“She’s a chance but she’ll probably need a run,” Green said. “She obviously races better than she trains but we’ve done some vet work on her and she’s improved immensely.”

Smokinhotcheddar follows out stablemate Captain Nemo, who looks set to secure an economical trip drawn nicely in two.

“He’s going well and should be there at the finish,” Green said, tempering confidence by pointing out that the horse’s best three runs in his last four starts were all at Cambridge.

In his latest attempt on January 28, Captain Nemo took the lead 900 metres out but was reeled in late by Sprit Of Anzac who came off his back. Captain Nemo has yet to win in 14 starts at Auckland.

The fourth of Lincoln Farms’ runners on Friday, Themightyserina (race four) will get her chance from the ace draw.

“Hopefully she can get a suck along and earn a cheque.”

* Covid protocols allow owners with horses racing to attend Friday night’s meeting, but not the public.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Tuesday at Albion Park

Race 7: Bondi Shake
7.03pm NZ time

“He’s going really well and hasn’t had much luck. This looks a good race for him, it’s not overly strong. I rate him a top two chance. It’s just a matter of whether he can wind up fast enough from behind the leader.”

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 2: Captain Nemo

“He’s not quite up to the best in there but he’s honest enough. He’ll go round and get a cheque.”

Race 2: American Dealer

“He’ll go a good race but it will improve him a lot. David was really happy with him at the workouts and didn’t press him too hard. While he’ll be better for the run it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he won.”

Race 4: Smokinhotcheddar

“I thought her run for fifth last time was super. I’ve taken her off the unruly and she’s drawn one. If she doesn’t stuff the start, she’ll be right in it.”

Race 7: Tartan Robyn

“His first run for us was a beaut. He had a bad trip, parked most of the way, and still ran on. If he led, he’d be hard to beat.”

Race 8: Copy That

“He was deadly at the trials and Maurice said he couldn’t get over how easily he did it. It’s hard to imagine them beating him fair and square. He’d have to be exceedingly unlucky or do something stupid.”

Race 9: Argyle

“He needs the experience and a run under his belt before the Young Guns Final. I expect David will go back from seven and come into it late. I’m not holding my breath that he can win.”

Al Barnes

Al’s comments

Saturday night at Albion Park

Race 5: Larry Lincoln
10.47pm NZ time

“Larry deserves to be favourite and he’s got enough respect to lead and win. There are some capable horses in the race but over a mile Larry will be very hard to beat from in front.”

Race 10: Bondi Shake
1.20am NZ time

“He’s very bright after his win on Tuesday and will run a cheeky race. This is stronger but he’s up to them. Dance In The Sun looks the winner but I’m very confident he can run top three because he chases really well.”

Dan Costello Race Photography