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Maurice McKendry brings back Sugar Ray Lincoln after his tough debut second.

Sugar Ray can deliver knockout blow from the ace in opening Young Guns heat at Auckland

Trainer Ray Green is bullish about the chances of Sugar Ray Lincoln ($6, $2.30) at Auckland on Friday night after the rising talent drew perfectly and most of his main rivals fared very poorly.

“There’s every chance we can get the money,” says Green of Sugar Ray’s pole position for the first Young Guns heat.

“If we hold up in front it will be difficult for the others - anything drawn out the back will be up against it.”

Those with the job ahead of them include last week’s winner and fixed odds favourite Confederate who starts from three on the second row, Tony Herlihy’s Roy Kent, who is two the second row, smart beautifully-bred triallist Infamee, the outside of the second row, and Great White and I Got Chills, who are stranded in the widest two spots on the front row.

“Confederate won’t get a two hole trip this time from the second row and Roy Kent will be at the mercy of how fast Demon Blue comes out.”

Green says while Maurice McKendry didn’t have to call on Sugar Ray’s gate speed last week, it’s there if he wants to use it and leading would also bring stablemate Lincoln Lou, on his back, into play.

“You can’t label these two-year-olds just yet. Some will improve, some will hit a brick wall but I’m pretty high on Sugar Ray. Whatever happens on Friday he should develop into a serious horse one day and Maurice is of the same opinion.

“He does feel good and he’s one of those who only does what he has to.

“Maurice is not one to wax lyrical so it’s good he’s enthused over him too.”

McKendry was unusually outspoken about Copy That’s little brother after his debut run at Auckland when he had to abort a mid-race attack on the lead then sit parked for the last lap. McKendry tapped the horse only once up the home straight, the colt showing courage to fight back for a one length second to Confederate who enjoyed a perfect trail and passing lane run.

“He’s a classy horse and he’s trained on well,” Green said.

“The other little fella (Lincoln Lou) went great last week but they were never going to beat him after he looped the field to lead and walked them.

“But he went nearly five seconds slower than Sugar Ray’s heat, which equates to about 20 lengths. He’ll find this field tougher.”

The unlucky runner in Lincoln Lou’s heat was undoubtedly Cyclone Jordy, who was last turning in and snookered all the way home, finishing well held by driver David Butcher, just 2.4 lengths away. The Tate Hopkins-trained Art Major colt out of 21-race winner Cyclone Kate starts from five on Friday night.

Our runners this week

Saturday night at Albion Park

Captain Nemo.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Thursday night at Cambridge

Race 1: Major Achievement
5.19pm

“It’s his first race for a while and he hasn’t been setting the world on fire at the workouts. But he’s been racing better animals and this isn’t a stellar bunch. He’s a chance if things go his way. I’ve given Mathew Salaivao the drive.”

Race 1: Commander Lincoln
5.19pm

“He’s an average horse but the last time he raced here in amateur company he all but won. He’ll need luck from the second row but, while I couldn’t label him, he’s a runner’s chance.”

Race 5: Onyx Shard
6.59pm

“She got a bit sick for a while with a virus and I had to back off her. She seems over that now but I’m picking she’ll need a race. This will be like a glorified trial for her.”

Race 8: My Copy
8.14pm

“He came to the end of it so I gave him a little freshen-up and he seems in good shape again. It will be interesting to see how he goes fresh - he may need a race but he’ll appreciate the step-down in class. I’m running him here so he doesn’t come up against any bear cats first-up.”

Race 9: Lincoln Cove
8.47pm

“Hopefully he’s getting better but you’ve just got to take him on trust. He has ability but the desire has been sadly lacking. Zac will have to sit quietly on him as he broke when given only one tap with the stick last time. The small field will suit him as he won’t be too far off them. If he doesn’t make any mistakes, he’ll give them a fright.”

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 3: Leo Lincoln
6.43pm

“Maurice said he would have finished a lot closer last time than sixth (fourth or even third) had he not locked wheels at the 100. That took all his momentum away. He’s been holding his form well and he gets out well enough to use the inside draw. He’s a chance to get some of the money.”

Race 5: Sugar Ray Lincoln
7.39pm

“He did have marks on his boot after his last run and trying a spreader on him has helped. But he’s a real baby. He has real ability but he’s still developing mentally and physically and we’re still finding our way with him.”

Race 5: Lincoln Lou
7.39pm

“He’s racing well but he’ll find it tough from the outside draw.”

Race 6: Debbie Lincoln
8.07pm

“I can’t see her improving enough to give the Purdon/Phelan trio a fright. She can go (fast) enough but still has a lot to learn. The main thing for her is getting round safely. She’s put two in a row now so hopefully she’ll start improving.”

Race 10: Lincoln La Moose
9.59pm

“He had an excuse last time - he got wiped out on the first corner and that was the end of his race. I like him, he’s a nice horse, just not quite as experienced as Frisco Bay.”

Race 10: Frisco Bay
9.59pm

“I lean towards Frisky as the better chance of our two. You can’t fault what he did the other night at Cambridge, and he seems to be on the improve. He’s more reliable than Lincoln La Moose.”

Race Images - Harness