Neptune (Bettor’s Delight) gave everybody in harness racing the feel-good story they wanted at Alexandra Park on Thursday night (Nov. 24) after a horror week for trainer Ray Green.
The popular 77-year-old horseman, who just two weeks ago won his second New Zealand Cup with Copy That, has been in hospital since Monday when he was kicked in the stomach by a horse.
Green needed a seven-hour operation and has had small sections of his colon and bowel removed, having to have a bag fixed for at least the next three months.
After stunning everybody when he was able to come out of Intensive Care on Tuesday, Green admits it has been a tough week.
“It hasn’t been much fun,” he says.
“There is a fair bit of discomfort and the last couple of days have been harder than I thought.
“And as anybody who has been in hospital will know they are hard places to get any sleep. They are noisy places and people keep waking you up.
“I am hoping I can get out next week but it might even be longer.”
One saviour for Green that will resonate with any racing fan was when he was able to get his laptop set up so he could watch the Alexandra Park races on Thursday and that enabled him to cheer home Neptune.
The promising two-year-old overcome traffic concerns on the home bend to surge clear up the passing lane for what will clearly not be his last win.
It completed an early double for driver Zachary Butcher, who later added another two to prove he is driving in career-best form and is cemented in the top 5 of the premiership and almost 25 wins in front of father David as the North Island’s leading driver on the premiership.
Later in the night, Hey Bartender did what trainer-driver James Stormont had predicted he would when he held the lead and bolted away with the main pace, landing some decent bets after opening $4.20 but closing $2.4 on the fixed odds.
I See Fire overcame a 15m handicap to win over 2200m in the main trot, with trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett getting their own double when Mum’s Jewel won another trot two races later.
That continued the multiple wins theme for the night as Mum’s Jewel was driven by Tony Cameron who earlier in the night also drove Dontstopmenow to win for boss Tony Herlihy, who was almost certainly watching the race at a pub in Melton.
With Herlihy campaigning Bolt For Brilliance at the Inter Dominions, Cameron will take that hot form south to partner Double Delight in the $100,000 NZ Trotting Oaks at Addington on Friday.
For complete race results, click here.