Ray’s on-again off-again love affair with Recco is back on again
Recco Lover hadn’t even reached the finishing line and trainer Ray Green was downing his first glass of wine.
But 75 metres out, with a three length lead, it was obvious that the horse was finally going to deliver - 14 months and 12 starts since his last win.
“I’ve been saying for that long that he had the ability of a cups horse and people were starting to look at me strangely,” says Green.
“But you saw tonight what he’s capable of and he did it quite easily.’’
Watching Friday’s race in Lincoln Farms’ office at Alexandra Park, where their many owners congregate on race night, Green let on what he was thinking a round from home with Recco Lover highballing in front.
“Now if this had been a year ago I’d have said they couldn’t beat him.’’
But during that time Green has watched, frustrated, as the horse turned in one disappointing run after another, running close-up but never quite giving his best.
But this night things were a bit different.
After a nice freshen-up, the horse was sporting blinds and removable deafeners, gear changes which Green hoped would spark the horse out of his lazy ways.
And within the first few seconds of the race there were signs the trick might be working as driver Andre Poutama was able to gun Recco Lover out of the gate and cross over from six to lead by the first turn.
“He’s not normally that quick,’’ says Green. “But he left the gate super tonight.’’
Poutama had a few worrying seconds, however, as Recco Lover skipped and nearly broke - “that’s just him, he’s clumsy as.’’
But once underway, Recco Lover paced along fine - until halfway up the home straight when he again tried to switch off.
“He would have heard the others drop off,’’ says Green.
Poutama, desperate to keep Recco Lover interested, continually ran his whip through the horse’s tail until he hit the line three and a half lengths clear of Parker, with red hot fancy Revolver battling into third.
It quickly became obvious why the beaten contingent struggled to make up ground on Recco Lover, his 2:40.2 clocking for the 2200 metres beyond many of them.
“He’s done some brilliant things, this horse,’’ says Green. “His Sires Stakes performance was phenomenal.’’
Fifth behind Chase Auckland in the New Zealand record-run 2017 Final at Addington, Recco Lover clocked the fastest sectional in the race, pacing his last 800 metres in 54.48.
“He has enormous ability but he’s just such a blasé individual.’’
Green says it remains to be seen whether Recco Lover will respond as well to the gear changes next start.
But just when and where that will be depends on continuing negotiations for a possible sale to Australia.
Lincoln Farms’ business manager Ian Middleton revealed offers had been made for the horse recently but none had been accepted.
The partnership which races Recco Lover is no stranger to horses being sold - the mostly South Island team has enjoyed racing a succession of Lincoln Farms’ horses who have fetched good money including Beaudiene Boaz, Killer Queen, Zach Maguire, Spring Campaign and most recently Beaudiene Western.
Only Middleton and Margaret Rabbitt were there to enjoy the occasion on Friday night, their partners watching from afar including Rabbitt’s brother Brian, Michael Brereton, Martin Letton, Kevin Bell, Denis James, Steve Beckett, Deane Hutchinson and Gerard Collins.
Missing was one of their lynchpin members, the late John Dias, who died in February, Margaret Rabbitt making special mention of their former larger-than-life partner.
“This would be the first trophy we’ve won since John died. I’m sure he would have been beside himself.’’
Middleton, deputising for Lincoln Farms’ owners John and Lynne Street, who share in the ownership of Recco Lover, thanked sponsors Jacobsen Headstones, hoping none of the remaining team would be needing their services any time soon.
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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.”
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.’’
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.”