Copy That suffers bleed in Honolua Bay's Hunter Cup
By Adam Hamilton
A minor bleed and 28-day ban for Kiwi star Copy That marred an otherwise memorable Hunter Cup at Melton last night, won by Honolua Bay and top driver David Moran.
The setback continued Copy That’s horror run of “issues” on Melbourne raids, but trainer Ray Green is adamant it won’t impact his quest to win the $1 million Race by Grins at Cambridge on April 14.
Copy That became fired-up after an unsuccessful burn to take the lead from pole marker Spirit Of St Louis. He over-raced so badly, he choked-down and driver Blair Orange retired him from the race in the middle stages.
A subsequent veterinary examination found the dual NZ Cup winner had suffered a grade three bleed, slightly more serious than the grade two bleed he had before last October’s Victoria Cup.
It’s the third successive trip to Victoria where Copy That has suffered a setback.
Prior to his two minor bleeds, the Ray Green-trained superstar suffered a hairline fracture in a hind leg after contesting the 2021 Cranbourne Cup.
“Yes, he had a little bleed. It was a bit worse than last time, but I’m not anticipating any ongoing issues,” Green said.
“You saw how well he recovered last time, he was in the best form of his career after it.
“Apparently, he’s bouncing around this morning. He flies home Wednesday, will be in his box Thursday morning and he can have a quiet week or so to recover.
“There are some nice lead-up races to the Cambridge race and he’s not a horse who requires a lot of work or racing to keep ticking over.
“That’s horse racing for you. I’m not too worried. We’ve just got to turn the page and move onto the next race.”
Copy That’s early burn with Spirit Of St Louis, which resulted in a five-second faster lead time than King Of Swing last year, helped set the Cup up for the swooper.
And it was the much-improved Honolua Bay who gave champion local trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin their first Hunter Cup win and arguably the most significant victory of their careers so far.
There were so many layers to the win with David Moran, who trained and drove the great Lochinvar Art to win the Cup two years ago, producing a stunning drive.
And owners Bill and Anne Anderson conceding the win came through the genius and persistence of Stewart and Tonkin.
It was Stewart’s 111th Group 1 win.
“This feels amazing. It’s one of those things you aspire to. It’s special,” Tonkin said.
“So much of the credit goes to Emma’s brother Sam, who’s done all the work with this horse. He was a bit ‘hot’ when he came to us, but now he relaxes in his races and finishes off like he did at the end of the long trip tonight.”
Moran said: “I’m just so appreciative of the support and loyalty from the Andersons and Clayton and Emma. It’s a privilege to drive the horse.”
Moran’s moment of genius came rounding the final bend when he moved from four-wide back to the marker pegs behind the leader and used the sprint lane to win, running away by 4.7m in a 1min55.2sec mile rate for the long 2760m trip.
“Emma and Clayton have done a remarkable job with the horse,” Bill Anderson said. “We went away on a cruise just before the Inter Dominion and told them to just run him in the first round of Inter Dominion heats, scratch him from the rest of the series and target the Miracle Mile. Here we are winning a Hunter Cup.”
Honulua Bay now heads to Sydney to chase that Miracle Mile via a qualifying sprint at Menangle on February 25.
Inter Dominion winner I Cast No Shadow returned to his best with a slashing second after doing some early work.
Kiwi raider Old Town Road underlined his immense potential with a fantastic third after circling the field midrace to sit parked and fighting on strongly for a close third.
Tonkin was also thrilled with the run of four-placed Mach Dan.
“What a run! He burned at the start and still loomed as through he was the winner on the home bend. It was a huge run,” he said.