Copy That and Old Town Road provide Kiwi star power to Hunter Cup
By Adam Hamilton
There was a sigh of relief when Josh Dickie saw the final field for the Hunter Cup at Melton this Saturday night.
Dickie’s charge Old Town Road made the cut, but probably only just.
The inclusion of Expensive Ego, Rock N Roll Doo and Hurricane Harley into the final 12 caused quite some angst among those on the fringe and ultimately forced out pacers like former Kiwi Cranbourne (first emergency), the unlucky Petes Said So and outstanding four-year-old Catch A Wave.
Team McCarthy changed heart late last week and decided to send Expensive Ego south rather than stick to an original plan of staying home to focus on the Miracle Mile.
Rock N Roll Doo’s connections surprised a little by accepting with him after his tendency to badly over race had hurt him in recent runs, including the Ballarat Cup last start.
They had also touted a possible switch to a Miracle Mile focus.
Then came last Saturday night’s return to winning form by the fast and classy pacer Hurricane Harley when he easily won the Group 3 Casey Classic at Melton.
That trio all made the final 12.
Pre-draw $3.30 favourite and Kiwi star Copy That joins Old Town Road to give the race two NZ-trained runners.
“It’s a relief. We never really thought he could miss a run, but things did change over the past few days with Expensive Ego, Rock N Roll Doo and Hurricane Harley coming back into the picture,” Dickie said.
“Now we hope for a good draw because the horse has really come on since Ballarat when he hit the line well and we knew he’d take a lot from the run.”
Hurricane Harley’s inclusion gives the powerhouse Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin three runners. The others are Inter Dominion finalists Honolua Bay and Mach Dan.
Team McCarthy has two runners, both proven Grand Circuit stars, in Expensive Ego and Spirit Of St Louis.
Despite not nominating his one-time stable star Majestic Cruiser, trainer Jason Grimson still has two runners with his Inter Dominion final winner I Cast No Shadow and exciting recent stable addition Major Meister.
Hurricane Harley, Inter Dominion runner-up Torrid Saint and Ballarat Cup third place getter Triple Eight were those talked about as most fortunate to make the final field.
Hurricane Harley’s win was terrific last Saturday night, but he didn’t beat a hot field and his previous form had only been fair during a Western Australian stint.
Torrid Saint ran a slashing race in the Inter Dominion final, but his form has been well below that since, including a battling effort behind Hurricane Harley last Saturday night.
Triple Eight’s form wasn’t good enough to be any hope of making the field until he improved sharply for a terrific third at Ballarat.
Robbie Morris, co-trainer of Inter Dominion finalist and the much-improved Petes Said So, was gutted.
“I don’t know what more he could’ve done. His form through the Inter Dominion from bad draws was great and he beat Expensive Ego on his merits last start. It doesn’t seem fair,” he said.
As good as Cranbourne was winning the Shepparton Cup on debut for trainer David Aiken, he didn’t back up and was disappointing at Ballarat, which pushed him back to be an emergency for the Hunter Cup.
Andy Gath’s wish to run buzz four-year-old Catch A Wave sparked plenty of debate, but in the end the selectors went with genuine open-class form as its barometer.
It’s a shame in some ways because he would’ve added some real X-factor to the race with a good draw.
The final pre-draw field is: Copy That, Expensive Ego, Honolua Bay, Hurricane Harley, I Cast No Shadow, Mach Dan, Major Meister, Old Town Road, Rock N Roll Doo, Spirit Of St Louis, Torrid Saint, Triple Eight, Cranbourne (emergency).