Copy That firms in favouritism for Hunter Cup
By Adam Hamilton
There wasn't much to smile about at the Hunter Cup barrier draw for the Kiwi raiders at Melton on Saturday night.
Dual NZ Cup hero Copy That drew awkwardly out wide on the front row (gate six), while Old Town Road landed the worst possible marble, outside the back row (13).
Surprisingly, Copy That's odds were slashed from $3.20 into $2.40 despite the draw.
And trainer Ray Green remained optimistic.
"I don't mind the draw. He can make his own luck from there," he said.
"Sure, there's some speed drawn inside him, but I'm not worried about that."
Old Town Road eased from $10 to $15 after the draw and will now need the race to be run upside down to have a genuine chance.
Team McCarthy was the big winner at the draw as they look to add to their fantastic recent record in the Hunter Cup.
Belinda and Luke McCarthy have won two of the past three Hunter Cups with the now retired King Of Swing.
Last year they snared the quinella when Spirit Of St Louis ran the best race of his career for a fantastic second to King Of Swing.
Spirit Of St Louis is back trying to go one better and drew perfectly in barrier one, while Luke McCarthy was also thrilled with gate nine for Expensive Ego.
"It's all smiles from us after those draws," Luke said. "Spirit Of Louis has the speed to use gate one and the way he's going, we'd be keen to keep the lead.
"He looks right back to his best with his two recent wins at Menangle. The sectional times have been good. He's got a great chance this week."
Spirit Of St Louis was as long as $26 for the Hunter Cup last month, but is $4.50 favourite the pole draw.
Expensive Ego has been costly in Victoria with nine starts in the state netting just one win. He's won just one of five starts at Melton.
But McCarthy is not deterred and insists a nice trailing back row draw (gate nine) is just what he needs.
"He's so often had to do all the work in Melbourne and we want to drive him with a sit. The draw is perfect to do that," he said.
"We think he's flying and on the rare occasions we've driven him with a sit, he's run super races."
Honolua Bay, who ran a slashing second to Copy That in the Ballarat Cup, looks another key player from gate four.
He is one of three Cup runners for the powerhouse Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable. The others are Mach Dan (seven) and Hurricane Harley (eight).
Inter Dominion winner I Cast No Shadow has drawn barrier three and is a $31 shot for trainer Jason Grimson, who also has $17 shot Major Meister in the race from the back row (12).
Victoria Cup winner Rock N Roll Doo, who has been over racing and struggling for his best form, is kept safe at $11 from barrier 10.
HUNTER CUP DRAW
Front row: Spirit Of St Louis 1, Torrid Saint 2, I Cast No Shadow 3, Honolua Bay 4, Triple Eight 5, Copy That 6, Mach Dan 7.
Back row: Hurricane Harley 8, Expensive Ego 9, Rock N Roll Doo 10, Cranbourne (emerg) 11, Major Meister 12, Old Town Road 13.