Chances brighten for Copy That's defence of New Zealand Cup crown

By Michael Guerin

Copy That’s chances of defending his IRT New Zealand Cup title have increased even though he has left the country.

The outstanding Auckland pacer is in Victoria where he will start a campaign aimed at next month’s Victoria Cup with his first lead-up race being the A$100,000 Caduceus Classic at Melton on Saturday night.

Trainer Ray Green has also taken three-year-olds Simply Sam and Argyle to Victoria for the Derby next month, the latter a surprise addition to the team after a huge improvement curve in the last month.

“The two three-year-olds both deserve a crack at a good race so they will start over here on Friday night and Copy That will go straight into a group 1 on Saturday,” says Green.

Copy That beat Self Assured and South Coast Arden in the New Zealand Cup last November and while his crossing the Tasman was initially thought to reduce his chances of defending that title, Green says that isn’t the case.

“We thought about the Victoria Cup and maybe even staying on here right through the Inter Dominions (December) but now we are more focused on getting him home for the New Zealand Cup.

“So while he is definitely staying here until after the Victoria Cup I’d say it was close to certain, all going well, he will go home for the New Zealand Cup.”

That raises question over whether Copy That would return back across the Tasman for the Inter Dominions, which start on November 26.

"We are still not committed to that,” admits Green.

“The three heats in a week and all the travelling may not be ideal because it is such a long season.

“We still have races like The Race by Grins in April and the Auckland Cup way back in May so there is a lot of water to go under the bridge and I don’t want to be too hard on him pre-Christmas.

“But the two races we are most focussed on at the moment are the Victoria and New Zealand Cups.”

That might be enough to tempt punters at the $9 the TAB is offering for Copy That to defend his NZ Cup title, especially as Akuta is the $5 second favourite and no good thing to even contest the iconic race at Addington on November 8.

What will also affect the market is what Australians, if any, cross the Tasman for the Cup, with the option to stay for the NZ Free-For-All three days later.

NZ Messenger winner Majestic Cruiser, who finished second in The Race by Grins last April, has already been nominated and will be a serious force in the Cup if he comes but NSW driver Cameron Hart says he is not sure if that will be the primary November target.

The biggest Australian question mark is over former superstar Lochinvar Art, who has been touted as a Cup chance but raced well below his brilliant best of last season when well beaten at Melton last Saturday.

His form would need to return to something more like his best for his connections to be considering a Cup campaign or for him to be seen as a major threat in any of the biggest races.

Entries for the Cup and the Dominion, run at Addington on November 11, close this week.

One of the favourites for the Dominion, giant trotter Muscle Mountain will resume at Addington this Friday night in the $30,000 Ordeal Trotting Cup, a free-for-all stand over 2600m.

The major pacing race this Friday will see northern speedsters Alta Wiseguy and B D Joe, the latter a clinical winner at Addington last Friday, clash with Laver in the New Brighton Cup.

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