Sugar Apple gets the coveted inside draw for the first Young Guns heat at Auckland on Friday night. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.

Sugar Apple worth a bite from plum draw in first Young Guns heat on Friday night

Sugar Apple ($10, $3.20) might have beaten only two home on debut but from the pole in Friday night’s first Young Guns heat at Auckland he will be very hard to beat.

Trainer Ray Green was delighted when the first of Lincoln Farms’ fully partnered two-year-olds had better luck with the barrier draw this week.

The half brother to top three-year-old American Dealer was dealt the outside of the gate in the first two-year-old race on January 22, and copped a rough trip as a consequence.

Three wide for the first 700 metres, and involved in a bumping duel with well fancied rival Ohoka Creed, driver Zachary Butcher eventually pushed the button on the colt to sprint forward and park at the bell.

He was still there punching in second place at the 200 metre mark but understandably weakened late to finish eighth.

The finishing position did not reflect the colt’s real ability, which saw leading owner Trevor Casey buy into the youngster along with a host of others, and Green is expecting the Lone Star silks to be more prominent on Friday night.

“With the draw I think they’ve got to beat him. He didn’t disgrace us last time and I think he’s up to most of them.”

Green says none of his two-year-olds were screwed down for their debuts and have improved in the interim.

‘It’s still a learning curve for them but I think both my colts will go well.”

While Sugar Apple’s draw improves, Argyle ($12, $3.50) goes out from one to six this time, making his job a lot tougher.

Argyle enjoyed the run of the race behind the leader and winner Casino Action on debut, finishing on strongly for second, 2.6 lengths away.

“He won’t get the two hole trip this week and will have to do a bit of work but I think he’ll still go a good one. He’s quite a nice horse.

“The run seems to have shaken him loose - his work this week has been good - and I think he’s improved.”

Major Grace just needs some luck from a sticky gate. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.Major Grace just needs some luck from a sticky gate. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.Grace an improver

Green is also confident of a bold showing from Major Grace ($21, $4.60) in the first Young Guns heat for fillies after her solid first attempt.

Thrown the dreaded outside alley on the gate Major Grace was last all the way and still detached by three lengths at the 400.

But the speed she showed between the 400m and 100m carried her right in behind them.

“For a fleeting second I thought she was going to run right into it but she just flattened out the last bit. But when they’re running their last quarter in 27, she wasn’t going to burn past them.”

Major Grace’s sectionals for the last 800 and 400 were actually faster than the winner’s - she clocked 57.4 and 27.3 - and her last mile of 1:59.5 was only one tenth of a second slower than the fastest, runner-up Mitsi Gaynor. By comparison Argyle ran 1:59.3 in the colts’ race.

“She’s drawn in a dodgy place (five). Either you go back and take your chances of you go forward and risk getting parked. “But if she can get a trip, I think she can get some money. She just needs a bit of luck. She’s a nice little filly.”

Our runners this week

Saturday night at Albion Park


Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 2: Frisco Bay

“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

“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

“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

“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.”

Dan Costello Race Photography