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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

Saturday night at Albion Park

Argyle.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 2: Frisco Bay
6.40pm

“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
6.40pm

“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
7.10pm

“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
7.10pm

“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.”

Race Images - Harness