Green Birdie still has what it takes - Bussey
Green Birdie dashed the hopes of Singaporean fans with his gritty win in the rain-soaked Group One KrisFlyer International Sprint last year, and Caspar Fownes' travelling assistant Dale Bussey hopped off his charge after trackwork yesterday morning quietly confident the under-rated galloper can go back-to-back on Sunday.
Green Birdie hasn't won since he downed Singapore's galloping hero, Rocket Man, by a neck in driving rain at Kranji racecourse on May 16, but Bussey, who has been the gelding's companion in subsequent trips to both Japan and Dubai, believes the seven-year-old is still capable of winning at the top level.
'Green Birdie feels as good as he did last year when I rode him, he's definitely still got what it takes,' Bussey said. 'He's got a good set of legs on him, sure he's a year older and he feels a year older, too, but he's ageing really well and there's more wins to come from him yet.
'We may not get the rain on the night that he appreciated last year, but in saying that, he doesn't need rain to win.
'Rocket Man looks very strong again this year, there's no doubt he's the one to beat.' The morning started well for Bussey, who gave Green Birdie a quiet stretch around the humid Kranji circuit, but by lunchtime his day had soured, with the ominous number 10 being drawn alongside his charge's name.
'Obviously to draw the outside gate is not ideal, but it's not a huge field, and having Rocket Man directly inside us should bring us across nicely, and might give us some cover,' Bussey said.
Jockey Brett Prebble will be the man responsible for finding that cover under the high-pressure first seconds of the S$1 million Group One, but Bussey has his fingers crossed that the horse will get his chance to show the world, what he has shown his rider in the mornings.
'He did all his fast work back in Hong Kong, and had a barrier trial the day before he flew down here - so it has just been a matter of keeping him fresh and ticking over since he's arrived, Bussey said.
'Green Birdie wasn't asked for much in either of his recent trials, and he actually doesn't like the straight 1,000 metres at Sha Tin, so it was a nice trial behind Blaze King, from my perspective, knowing the horse.
'The last dirt trial was ideal, he wasn't asked for anything at all and just had a quiet one before he hopped on the plane.