Ray keeps the winners coming for Merv - and Merv keeps the horses coming for Ray
Melbourne owner Merv Butterworth admits Ray Green has trained so many winners for him in the last few months that he’s lost count.
But don’t for a moment think that tonight’s winner Bettor My Dreamz, his seventh individual winner from Lincoln Farms’ Pukekohe base, will be the last.
Butterworth, who has won 10 races with horses he has sent up from the South Island, plans to boost his numbers in the north even more in the next few months.
Headed Green’s way soon are:
* Classie Reactor, who has won two races in the last month for Grant Payne and
* Honor And Glory, winner of two of his three starts.
And in pre-training with Brent Barclay and Lauren Pearson are two unraced three-year-olds who will first have to prove themselves in Southland before earning their tickets north:
* Perfect Beauty, a Bettor’s Delight filly out of Nitouche Franco and
* Motu Tiger’s Eye, a Bettor’s Delight colt who is a half brother to 16-race winner Motu Crusader.
Butterworth has honed his New Zealand operation with a three tier progression.
“Robin Swain runs the pre-school, Brent Barclay mid-school and Ray Green high school.
“I send up the good horses who are suited to Auckland but they’ll all end up in Australia eventually because of the awful handicapping system here.”
Bettor My Dreamz joins the ever growing list of Butterworth’s Southland graduates who have scored in the Lincoln green silks - Just Wing It (three wins), Zealand Star (two), The Empress, The Bull Pen, Governor’s Bay and Steam Punk.
The only one who has not delivered at Alexandra Park is Kiwi Bloke, a stand start specialist who was quickly dispatched to Perth and is training well for Ross Olivieri.
And while the team has won $140,000 in Auckland, Butterworth says it’s not the money that drives him.
“I don’t count the dollars, just the wins. My bush accountancy tells me that so long as I average three wins a week I don’t lose money.”
With horses spread all over Australia, as well as New Zealand, few weeks go by when he doesn’t make his target - tonight he had multiple runners in Auckland, Ballarat and Perth.
Green’s skills in preparing Bettor My Dreamz again impressed Butterworth tonight.
“It was a matter of getting him fit and used to the Auckland way of going and the rest simply unfolded - thanks to a beautiful drive by David (Butcher).
“And judging by that win there will be a few more.”
The ultra patient approach adopted by Butterworth with all his charges again paid dividends- tonight’s $11 win dividend one he cashed in on.
Bettor My Dreamz was looking like a real up-and-comer with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen last year, winning two of only four starts, when he hit himself and had a “bit of a joint and lump on a leg”.
Veterinary advice was to give him a spell.
“So I gave him a very, very long break,” said Butterworth.
Now four, Bettor My Dreamz looks ready to make up for lost time, judging by the authority of his win tonight.
Though only a head to the good of Delightful Major at the line, he was holding strongly after enjoying a perfect trail behind stablemate The Empress, another Butterworth rep.
His overall time of 2:42.4 was also solid, a mile rate of 1:58.8, with closing sectionals of 57.2 and 27.7.
The Empress looked an improver in her first run for more than a month. After doing plenty of work to find the front she felt the pinch 75 metres out but still battled bravely for fifth, only two lengths from the winner.
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Our runners this week
Saturday night at Albion Park
Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them
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.”