Zealand Star notches another one for Green and Butterworth
First Steam Punk, now Zealand Star, and soon Just Wing It - that’s the impressive score card for Pukekohe trainer Ray Green with horses owned by Merv Butterworth.
When Zealand Star scored a commanding win at Cambridge last Friday it was the second time Lincoln Farms’ trainer has scored for the big Australian owner in double quick time.
Steam Punk won at Auckland in his second attempt for Green before Butterworth decided his future lay in Australia.
Replacement Zealand Star took five starts to win after two recent indiscretions at the start - but he still saluted within a month of starting racing from Lincoln Farms’ Pukekohe base.
And the ease of his win suggests he could go back to back when he returns to Cambridge on Friday.
Driver Zachary Butcher drove a perfect race on the sit-sprinting five-year-old, keeping him back until launching at the 600 metres and easily rounding up the leader Patanjali to score this first win in nearly 11 months.
Zealand Star showed 2700 metres was well within his scope as he clocked a respectable 3:25.5, a mile rate of 2:02.5, doing his best work late.
Green’s move to fit an undercheck obviously did the trick at the start, preventing Zealand Star from lifting his head and becoming unbalanced.
But Butcher’s decision to keep him off the gate also helped, as he stayed relaxed, three lengths behind them on dispatch.
Butterworth wasn’t at Cambridge to see the win - he was 5300km away in Perth to see his former Kiwi SunofLindenny run favourite in the $50,000 Trotters’ Cup at Gloucester Park.
Things didn’t go to plan there when the horse galloped away, was then held up by a breaker, and forced to sit parked for the last half of the race, tiring late to fifth.
Now a rating 70 horse, Zealand Star will have to step up a grade this week but Green says that won’t stop him as he has the motor to win more races.
It’s too soon for Green to tell what’s under the hood of newcomer Just Wing It who has only been jogging since Butterworth sent him to Pukekohe last month.
But he likes what he’s seen so far from the bold four-year-old son of Art Major.
Just Wing It started his career with Michael Purdon and in five starts he managed two thirds, including a 2:42.7 third behind Power Dreaming at Auckland after sitting parked for the last mile and being nabbed only 50 metres out.
He hasn’t raced since October 12, ironically in the Lincoln Farms Pace, when he was checked into a break 400 metres out and injured, found to have cut a pastern.
His dam Starling has left 18-race winner (Our) Blackbird and the up-and-coming The Night Hawk (3 wins).
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Friday night at Auckland
Race 1: Man Of Action
“He should get out well at the start and won’t have to do too much work from the inside alley. While I don’t think he could win he’s a big, lazy type who has yet to be smacked on the bum.’’
Race 1: Perfect Stride
“He missed four days’ work after standing on the nail and it could have left him a little bit short for Friday. But he’s still classy enough to win it, especially from the perfect draw.”
Race 1: Tommy Lincoln
“I only really entered him to make sure the race got off the ground but he’s going well enough to be there. He isn’t really a genuine two-year-old but he won’t disgrace himself.’’
Race 1: Double Or Nothing
“He’ll make Perfect Stride earn it. I drove him in work on Tuesday and the way he felt he’s gone on from where he was previously. He keeps improving and will be a serious chance.’’
Race 1: Sir Tiger
“He’s had to rough it both times and has another wide draw on Friday night. He’s honest and will go round OK but it’s hard to see him footing it with some of the others from out there.’’
Race 1: Copy That
“Ability wise he’s as good as Perfect Stride and Double Or Nothing but he hasn’t quite got their game yet. He’ll go back at the start but if he could slot in somewhere and things went his way he could get some of it.’’
Race 4: Beaudiene Blinkz
“She’s extremely honest but the other filly should have the wood on her. She does have the pedigree to lift her game on the day however and has the speed to use her good draw.’’
Race 4: Hilary Barry
“She’s a lovely driving filly who you can put anywhere in a race. If she can get a good trip behind the one horse (Emmber) she can be right in it but it’s hard to line up all these unknown quantities.’’
Race 5: Recco Lover
“Even though he trained well on Tuesday morning I think he’ll be short of a run because he had a big break with that first sale pending. He trialled nicely recently but blew out halfway down the straight.’’
Race 5: Zealand Star
“I wouldn’t normally back him up three weeks in a row but he’s come out of last week’s race very well. If he’d been one spot closer at Cambridge he’d have won for fun. He needs to get a suck into it late.’’