Recco Lover challenges up the lane with Star Galleria, obscured beside him, and Jack’s Legend and On The Cards further out. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.

Recco a ripper and Ray’s hoping he keeps on improving

Recco Lover ran the race of his life against the cup class pacers last week and trainer Ray Green is hoping he’ll continue to get even better.

Green felt a big dose of satisfaction watching Recco Lover nearly win the Group II City Of Auckland Free-for-all, challenging up the passing lane and looking for a few seconds like he’d run past Jack’s Legend, On The Cards and Star Galleria.

While he couldn’t quite get there, even ace driver Tony Herlihy thought he’d still run third, the photo finish camera giving a nose margin to weakening pacemaker Star Galleria.

“We know he’s competitive at that level now,’’ says Green of Recco Lover who was only a half head, three-quarters of a length and a nose from the winner.

“If he’d only run in the first half of the field I’d have been happy.’’

Recco Lover drops back in grade on Friday night to a rating 62 to 81 stand over 2700 metres and is sure to be well backed on the strength of his latest showing, even from a 20 metre handicap.

“Stands don’t seem to worry him,’’ says Green.

Two starts back Recco Lover was first away in a 2200 metre stand and trailed hot favourite Mach Shard all the way before claiming him by half a head up the lane.

He shares the back mark with Mach Shard and Check In on Friday, 10 metres ahead of stablemate Zealand Star, and Green is hoping he’ll get a decent trip and be in the money again.

“I’ve just kept him ticking over this week. He didn’t need to be drilled.’’

In his last standing start Zealand Star, on the outside of the track, comes down pacing but has lost too much ground in a sprint.In his last standing start Zealand Star, on the outside of the track, comes down pacing but has lost too much ground in a sprint.Hopple shorteners for Star

Green will use hopple shorteners on Zealand Star in an attempt to help him get away from the standing start after he muffed it two starts back. But he’s not sure where the horse is at after a mystery run last week when he only battled into third.

Dropping back in grade to rating 55 to 75 company, Zealand Star was expected to be very hard to beat, even against the All Stars’ Kayla Marie and Bubbled Up.

And after he secured the one-one sit, driver Zachary Butcher was thinking he might win when he hooked him out in the run home.

“But he flattened out quickly and Zac said he didn’t show his usual zip.”

Suspecting the horse “might have some passengers on board” - viral bugs, like many in his stable - Green pulled a blood off the horse.

“But it came back good so I can’t explain it.

“I’d like to think on his previous form he’ll be a big show on Friday but it depends entirely on the start.’’

Two starts back, in his first stand for 12 months, he galloped soon after the tapes were released and lost crucial ground.

With Butcher committed to Mach Shard and his dad David to Check In, Green has engaged in-form driver Todd Mitchell for Zealand Star.

Maurice McKendry … drives Just Wing It.Maurice McKendry … drives Just Wing It.A new driver, Maurice McKendry, will also be in the cart of Just Wing It in the fourth race with Zachary Butcher behind leading hope Benson Boys.

Just Wing It and Butcher got their army of supporters home in a weak field at Cambridge last time, enjoying a one out one back cruise for the last lap, before scraping in by a neck over Ball Of Art.

But the horse won’t be at $1.40 this time and the ace draw might be his enemy not his friend.

“He’s a chance but I’m not sure if he’s got a lot of gate speed. He should end up one, two or three fence but it’s hard to predict these things.

“Hopefully he’ll be in the money again. He’ll win more races but he’s just a horse, there’ll be no Interdominion glory with him.’’

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