Strapping Vinibaka steps it up again winning Pukekohe qualifier

Vinibaka continued his dramatic progress for trainer Ray Green, winning his qualifying trial stylishly at Pukekohe yesterday.

Sent to the early lead from five at the gate by driver Andre Poutama, Vinibaka opened up a three length break on the home turn and held off a spirited late challenge by Belle Of Montana to score by a neck, closing in 58.4 and 27.9. His overall time for the mobile 2050 metres was 2:38.

The strapping Christian Cullen four-year-old has taken time but is unbeaten this prep, having won workout heats in the previous two weeks.

Girl ready to go

Lincoln’s Girl showed she was nearing race fitness in her fourth workout, trailing early for Zachary Butcher, before shooting to the lead down the back and holding off eight-race winner Delightful Zen in a tight four-way finish. Winner of two of her four raceday starts, she scored by a neck, home in 57.9 and 27.1.

Mathew improving

Mathew James, a $120,000 yearling buy, showed some much needed improvement when he won the learner’s heat by a comfortable one and three-quarter lengths, Zachary Butcher leading all the way and sprinting clear turning for home. He clocked 60.7 and 27.9 for the closing sectionals with a sedate overall time of 2:43.2 for the 2050 metres.

Hustler not bustled

Spring Cup winner Northview Hustler wasn’t asked for his best in the tight class heat, not pulled off the back of winner Jack’s Legend in the run home. He finished half a head and one and a quarter lengths away in third. He runs in the Holmes DG on Friday night. Stablemate Recco Lover was very slow to find his straps from the standing start and trailed in fourth the entire trip.

Trojan like a Trojan

Trojan Banner ran fourth in his heat, trailing, making an aborted attempt to lead, then fighting on solidly enough. The winner came from Lincoln Farm’s barn, Robert Dunn’s Chevron Supreme huge in scoring, losing a lot of ground when galloping off the arm, before looping the field 700 metres from home and staving off Cambridge visitor Baquero.

Phil close second

Washington VC three-year-old Phil Bromac qualified in his heat, running a neck second to The Batmobile. He was restrained to third early by Zachary Butcher, found the one-one briefly at the 400m before Gambit broke in front of him, and when able to weave a passage, showed a nice turn of foot down the outside to just miss.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 2: Northview Hustler

“I’m a bit worried about him. He’s training OK but he’s not the horse he can be. He’s as light as I’ve ever seen him. He didn’t look himself in the preliminary last week either but I treated him after that. We’ll just have to see how he goes.”

Race 3: Trojan Banner

“His draw looks bad but if he can secure a nice run through behind Sezana he could end up getting a good trip and then should beat them. He’s been racing the bear cats recently and he’s trained particularly well this week.’’

Race 4: Make Way

“He just need some luck. He won’t leave the gate from out there, he’ll go back, but if he gets a drag into it at the right time, he’ll be the one to beat. He’s been racing the best of the best lately and this is a big drop in grade for him.”

Race 6: Zealand Star

“I was initially a bit disappointed in him last week until I saw the time he went. The mile this week will suit him and he just needs some luck from the draw. He’s not one you can put in the race so Andrew (Drake) will go back and try to get a suck up.’’

Race Images - Harness

Lincoln light

News in brief

Sir Tiger … impressive sectionals.

Sir Tiger … impressive sectionals.

TIGER GETS TIME STRIPES: Sir Tiger may have run only seventh in the Young Guns race at Auckland but you couldn’t fault him on the clock. He ran the equal fastest last half of 56.5 along with the winner Smooth Deal and was one tenth of a second faster over his last mile (1:57.1) than stablemate and runner-up Double Or Nothing. He was slightly back at the start after racing greenly in the score-up.

BYE BYE VINNIE: Vinibaka again showed he didn’t want to be a racehorse at Manawatu so now he isn’t. The four-year-old disappointed in all six starts and is now the galloping pacemaker for Pukekohe trainer James Stormont.

RUPERT STIFF: Lincoln Farms’ graduate Rupert Of Lincoln finished a desperately unlucky third at Ballarat on Tuesday night. Bottled up four deep on the markers, he flew late when finally clear. He has now racked up three wins and two placings from five starts since being sold to Merv Butterworth.

TWO ENTERED FOR CUP: Northview Hustler and Recco Lover are among 23 horses nominated for the $250,000 Auckland Cup on New Year’s Eve. The entries are: American Empress, Recco Lover, Tennyson Bromac, Classie American, Mach Shard, Triple Eight, Raptors Flight, Check In, Ashley Locaz, Turn It Up, On The Cards, Sheriff, Sicario, All U Need Is Faith, Northview Hustler, Pat’s Delight, Jack’s Legend, A G’s White Socks, Lets Elope, Elle Mac, Utmost Delight, Star Galleria, Dream About Me.