Bad To The Bone's strategy against Copy That
By Michael Guerin
If Bad To The Bone can secure an unusual role he could find himself in an unusual place at Alexandra Park tonight: the winner’s circle.
The rugged four-year-old pacer comes up against the North Island’s best pacer Copy That in the $25,000 Kerry Hoggard Memorial, the final northern lead-up to next month’s IRT New Zealand Cup at Addington.
Copy That has beaten Bad To The Bone almost every time they have met but tonight the favourite faces a 30m backmark and giving Bad To The Bone a 10m start, which may not sound like much over 2700m but could translate into valuable field position.
If Bad To The Bone steps well and stays in front of Copy That he could have the option of pressing forward mid-race and finding the lead, a position he has rarely found himself in for the last year but when he did he won.
The last time Bad To The Bone led and stayed in front was on Cup Day at Addington last year and he won, albeit it in intermediate grade, while he led and handed up in an open class race at Alexandra Park last December and finished right alongside Spankem, Thefixer, South Coast Arden and Copy That. So, the big boys.
Since then Bad To The Bone has sat parked when second in the Taylor Mile, Messenger Pace and in the Spring Cup last start, each time beaten by Copy That who had a better run.
Tonight if he can get around the field and up against the marker pegs he gets his best chance to beat the favourite, with co-trainer Barry Purdon says the rolling pacer will be a better horse tonight than in the Spring Cup two weeks ago.
“He has come on well since then and we are happy with him,” says Purdon.
Purdon feels the same about Belle Of Montana, who was a slightly luckless fifth in the Spring Cup and will also improve tonight but admits he narrowly favours Bad To The Bone as the better chance.
As brave as Bad To The Bone has been he will still need that right type of run to beat Copy That because if they get similar luck and Copy That tracks him into the race then he might have too much speed for Bad To The Bone.
Purdon and training partner Scott Phelan also have Major Perry and Montana D J in the Sires’ Stakes heat tonight, with both set to improve on their efforts in the first heat at Cambridge last week.
“Major Perry would be our better hope but Montana D J has worked well this week and I think he will go better than last week,” said Purdon. The market for the Sires’ Stakes race sees last-start maiden winner Pauly D very short even from barrier one as he steps up a long way in grade although his draw gives him options.
Meanwhile, Purdon has provisionally engaged Colin De Filippi to drive Bad To The Bone and Major Perry during New Zealand Cup week, as looks likely, regular stable drivers Phelan and Zachary Butcher can’t travel south because of Covid restrictions.