Greene provides quinella in Counties Cup
Local trainer David Greene experienced a wonderful moment at Te Rapa on Saturday when he provided the quinella in the Gr.3 Franklin Auctions Counties Cup (2100m).
Greene went into the race confident that he had two strong chances and so it proved as his former Gr.3 Waikato Cup (2400m) winner Justamaiz held out stablemate Judy’s Song and race favourite Cheaperthandivorce to capture his second stakes victory.
Seven-year-old Guillotine gelding Justamaiz had looked a forlorn chance when he was well back in the early running for rider Michael McNab, an unusual place for the ghostly grey galloper who is normally situated up on the pace.
McNab bided his time and tracked Cheaperthandivorce into the race on the home bend, before joining issue at the 250m. Challenged by Judy’s Song, who had enjoyed a cozy run on the fence behind pacemaker Big Mike, Justamaiz pulled out all stops to score by half a length with another length back to Cheaperthandivorce in third.
Greene was all smiles as he admitted he had given himself an unanticipated moment of panic in the home straight.
"I actually went into a little panic when I saw Justamaiz range up, as I thought he would just run away, but then I saw something challenging on his inside,” he said.
"I thought geez we could get beaten, then I realised it was mine as well.
"I think Judy’s Song has gone an enormous run at her first try at this grade.”
Greene was quick to shower praise on Michael McNab for the winning ride.
"Just as those good jockeys seem to do, he just had great timing and ranged into it at just the right moment,” he said.
"The horse has really come of age with his racing manners, and we provide a lot of winners for Michael, so that combo is working well together.
"We haven’t really seen Justamaiz win in that fashion in this grade in the past as he is normally rolling along and fighting them off.
"It was a good performance and he could come back here and try and win the Waikato Cup again next month.”
McNab cut an emotional figure after the race as he dedicated the victory to his grandmother, who he hasn’t been able to visit due to the COVID lockdown.
"The key was not to get too far back from the awkward gate as I’d had that happen on a couple earlier in the day which cost them,” he said.
"When I saw Danielle (Johnson, Cheaperthandivorce) I got in behind her, but I got back on the fence where he just completely dropped the bridle.
"He hasn’t done that in this prep and when I need him to quicken up, he was there and really surged at the furlong (200m) and then again near the post.
"I really wanted to dedicate this to my Nan as we haven’t been able to see her for awhile and I know she will be watching, so that one was for her.”
Justamaiz has now won eight of his 35 starts and over $281,000 in prizemoney for Greene and his fellow owners, Jack and Sue Thorburn and Quentin Maisey.
– NZ Racing Desk