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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: How our trainers rate them

Anthony Butt

Ant’s comments

Thursday night at Penrith

Race 4: Vasari
9.33pm NZ time

“He’s been going good races from bad draws and, if he can lead from one, he’ll be awfully hard to beat.’’

Race 6: Make Way
10.33pm NZ time

“He seems back to his best again. He’s really bright in himself and is bouncing around. He had an easy time for a while with his cough, and it’s possible he’ll need the run, but he’s not far away and from the front he’d be hard to beat.’’

Alistair Barnes

Alistair’s comments

Friday at Albion Park

Race 3: Trojan Banner
4.57pm NZ time

“The draw is horrible and makes it very tough for him. The horse in front of him is a slug off the gate and if we follow him we could end up three or four deep. At least over 2138 metres you have a little time up your sleeve. You can grab hold, pop off, give them a little breather in the second quarter, then take it as it comes. He has improved greatly since his last run but he’s still not at his peak and I’m reluctant to pressure him too much second-up by looping the field.’’

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 4: Just Wing It

“If he can land a good trip (from five) there’s no reason why he can’t pay another dividend. He’s gone three honest races so far. The winner of his race last week (Benson Boys) ran 2:40 and they don’t go much faster than that so to run on for third was a good effort.”

Race 5: Governor’s Bay

“I like the horse, he’s got the raw ability to win a race or two up here. He blew like hell after his workout on Saturday which tells me he tried hard and he’s a bit porky. He’s put on a lot of weight in a couple of weeks. It’s his first time right handed on Friday and I’ll be running him with pull down blinds after he knocked off at the trials.’’

Race 9: Hilary Barry

“Mark Purdon’s monsters aren’t there which gives everyone else a chance but she’ll find it tough from the draw. Unless she’s very lucky it’s not a good scenario. If Andrew goes forward and uses her petrol it will be hard and if he goes back she’ll get nothing.’’

Race Images - Harness