Resolved abscess could turn Banner into a real Trojan horse on Friday night
Trainer Ray Green might just have discovered this week why Trojan Banner’s form line doesn’t look up to much.
Green had high hopes that the colt could develop into the best of his three-year-olds however in seven starts this campaign he has failed to flatter.
But hopes that all that is about to change were raised this week when an abscess blew out of one of the horse’s heels.
“It might have been hurting him for a while,’’ says Green. “These things can linger for months and hopefully now it’s found it’s way out he might be a bit more enthusiastic.’’
Trojan Banner, who is out of a half sister to New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner, contests the last race at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
And after a run of bad draws, he has finally landed gate two which should see driver David Butcher able to find him a sweet possie.
“If he goes as well as I previously thought he could go he would stand over that lot,’’ says Green of Trojan Banner, a $15 chance with the TAB bookies.
Trojan Banner actually hinted at better things to come when he resumed from a spell on November 23, running fifth behind Blazen River, coming from five back on the markers with a closing 800 metres, three wide, in 55.4.
He was clocked over his last mile in 1:58.4, just two tenths of a second slower than the fastest two in the race.
Fellow three-year-old Make Way looks to have his work cut out in the opening race, the Northern Three-Year-Old Stakes, when he runs into the advanced phalanx of the Purdon/Rasmussen blue army in Another Masterpiece and Jessie Duke.
Green will be trying Make Way in half blinkers this time after sliding blinds seemed to have little effect on him last Friday night when he again went from bolting at the 400 to only battling up the straight.
“If they go a bit he’ll need to be up on the job. But he doesn’t want to be up there eye-balling them, we’ll let him sit back and come home.’’
Last week driver Zachary Butcher used up a lot of petrol to wrest the lead after 800 metres but Green says the horse goes better attacking late.
Northview Hustler also runs into the blue army in the fifth race, the Summer Cup, where he shares the 10 metre mark with Ashley Locaz, All U Need Is Faith and Sicario, among others.
But Green says it wouldn’t surprise him to see Hustler right there at the finish especially over the sprint trip.
“He’s capable of making them do it if he gets the right trip. We don’t do a lot with him on the track but he’s trained on OK and he was feeling dancey this morning.’’
Northview Hustler showed he had come back from his southern campaign in great order on November 23 when he ran a close-up fifth behind On The Cards, sizzling home in rarely seen fractionals of 54.1 and 26.1.
Feeling way with Butterworth pair
Green is only really guessing how his two newcomers Zealand Star (race 6) and Steam Punk (race 8), will go for owner Merv Butterworth.
Zealand Star will be having his first start for the stable after being sent north from trainer Lauren Pearson’s Winton barn with a first-up fourth to his credit.
The five-year-old, who has won three of his 20 starts, shaped up in promising fashion at the Pukekohe workouts last Saturday when finishing powerfully for second to Tuapeka Trick.
On Friday night while being at a disadvantage in the ratings he gets to run from the pole.
“It will be interesting to see how he fits in to the ones up here but I don’t think he’ll be outclassed. He seems a really nice, honest horse.’’
Green has added fixed deafeners and blinds to Steam Punk and will instruct driver Zachary Butcher to drive him more conservatively to try to prevent a repeat of his debut performance last week.
Steam Punk, who had shown no signs of doing anything wrong in training, floored Green by galloping on the first bend.
But he was hunted out very aggressively and, unable to cross, was stuck three wide into the bend where he just seemed “to lose the plot.’’
“He won’t be having any early speed duels this time and I’ve shut down his hearing with the gear changes because he’s quite a nervous horse.’’
Green has been playing round with Steam Punk’s hopples this week as well after Butcher reported he felt they were too tight last week.
“They are very short - I’m not sure they sent the right hopples up with him.
“It might take a start or two to figure him out.’’
More news in Harness
Argyle salutes at last and Mark confident he’ll keep the till ticking over in the next grade
Unlucky Argyle deserves to be rewarded at Albion Park tonight - just no bad luck please
Ray looking forward to Lincoln Lou and fully oxygenated Frisco Bay at Cambridge on Friday
Why Lincoln Farms had to buy lot 68 - his older brother Lincoln Lou is ready to rock
Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them
Friday night at Cambridge
Race 3: Lincoln Lou
“He’s a beautiful little horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him run. It’s hard to know how good he is, or how far he’ll go, but I guess we’ll find out on Friday. He’s the one to beat from the draw. If he doesn’t win, he won’t be far away.”
Race 5: Commander Lincoln
“I won’t be holding my breath. He tries hard enough but he lacks a bit of high speed.”
Race 8: Onyx Shard
“It’s two and a half months since she last raced, and she didn’t grow as much as I thought she would, but I’m expecting her to go a good race. Her last two trials have been good and she’s pulled up well.”
Race 8: Obadiah Dragon
“He’ll need a good trip from five but he’s not out of it. He went a good race last time at Cambridge and would be as equal a chance as Onxy Shard.”
Race 8: Beaudiene Rocknroll
“It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff with him until they let them go but he should step away this time. Zac (Butcher) said the gate went particularly slowly before that race and that’s why he got impatient. I thought he did well to recover for third. If he made the front, where he goes best, he’d be hard to beat.”
Race 9: Frisco Bay
“He’s a tidy horse and I’m expecting a big run. We’ve sorted the problem he had with his breathing last season and he’s right in the zone now after a second and a win at the workouts.”
Mark Dux’s comments
Saturday night at Albion Park
Race 5: Argyle
11.02pm NZ time
“It wouldn’t have mattered where he drew this week, he’s in the money, barring bad luck. He’s going terrific and he gets in so well at the ratings.”