Copy That and Muscle Mountain among the star attractions at Alexandra Park tonight
By Michael Guerin
Respect could be the biggest weapon on display in the open class group races at Alexandra Park tonight.
Many of the elite pacing stars who contested last Friday’s $1million Race by Grins at Cambridge return for the Taylor Mile while the Lyell Creek Trot sees Muscle Mountain come north to take on Australian visitor Aldebaran Zeus, who led most of the way to win the big trot at Cambridge last Friday.
Race by Grins winner Copy That has drawn perfectly at barrier 2 in the Taylor Mile, his draw even more of an advantage as arch rival Self Assured has drawn the inside of the second line while Victorian visitor Better Eclipse, who was excellent at Cambridge, will start from the outside of the front line.
While the drivers of speedsters like Nicholas Cage (3) and Alta Wiseguy (5) may consider launching early the big sprints at Cambridge in the last two weeks should have reminded punters just how tough it is to cross horses early at the highest level. To try and build a one and a half length advantage in the 200m to the first bend is often too tough a task.
That raises the very likely scenario of Copy That leading after the early buzz and then punters have to ask themselves where will any pressure come from?
Akuta could be one who heads forward but with Copy That capable of a 1:51 mile around Alexandra Park, just getting up outside him will require some exertion, pressuring him once you get more likely to undo the hunter than the hunted.
That is where the respect kicks in.
Those open class pacers have three more features this autumn including the Messenger next Friday so it is doubtful many drivers will want to attack Copy That knowing that bursting their bubble now could prove costly in the weeks ahead when they may actually get a draw to beat the little superstar.
So while it would only take one early flyer to turn the race upside down and potentially bring a swooping Self Assured into play, the most likely scenario tonight is Copy That leading and winning.
While Copy That may flat out simply have too much speed for his Taylor Mile rivals the Lyell Creek Trot is different in that Majestic Man (1) and Aldebaran Zeus (8) could pressure hot favourite Muscle Mountain if they were lit up at the start.
But driver Ben Hope believes the Muscle Mountain has the respect factor to reach the front, from where it is hard to imagine him being run down.
"We all know Majestic Man has gate speed but I think the way our horse has been going they would be happy to take a trail on us,” says Hope.
“That is the way I will be driving him, going forward and aiming for the front.”
Much like Copy That, if Muscle Mountain gets the front he too should have the respect to not be attacked, especially with most here likely to back up in the Group 1 National Trot next Friday.
Muscle Mountain was allowed to miss the Cambridge race last week to avoid racing three Fridays in a row but Hope drove him in fast work last weekend and says he is at his peak for tonight and while he has only had two starts at Alexandra Park, he did beat Sundees Son in a 1:55.6 mile here this time last year.