Copy That makes pleasing return, but NZ Cup tilt is no certainty
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Copy That may not have won at Alexandra Park on Thursday night, but trainer Ray Green still left the Auckland track with a grin from ear to ear.
Last year’s Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m) hero was having his first start in eight months after sustaining a fractured splint bone late last year when campaigning in Australia.
While that was a hurdle in itself for the five-year-old entire, he also had to overcome a 30m handicap under a deluge of rain in the Dunstan Speedfeed Handicap Pace (2200m).
He made the perfect start for driver Maurice McKendry, quickly finding the back of race favourite Old Town Road, who was given a 20m advantage over the five-year-old.
Driver Zachary Butcher stoked up Old Town Road to loop the field and take control of the race at the bell, while McKendry elected to stay at the rear of the field with Copy That.
Heading down the back straight McKendry decided to make his move but was pushed out four-wide by Rough And Ready, and Copy That was forced to do a power of work from there.
He showed his qualities when continuing his run and just coming up short by a neck to Old Town Road in the finish.
Green was over the moon with the run, particularly given the long road to recovery following his injury last year.
“He was to race that day (in Australia) and he was in the paddock, and they have those steel rails over there. He kicked and fractured an outside splint bone in his hind leg,” Green said.
“We had to stall rest him for four months and eventually it healed, and the x-rays were good, and here we are.
“He hadn’t raced in eight months, and it was a huge run tonight. If he hadn’t got hung four-wide he would have won for sure. I am very happy.”
Copy That’s performance has given Green the confidence to press on to an Australian campaign with the talented pacer, which will include the Gr.1 Caduceus Classic (1650m) at Melton on September 10 before returning to the track to contest the Gr.1 Victoria Cup (2240m) on October 8.
Green is unsure whether Copy That will have one more run in New Zealand before then, but the son of American Ideal is booked to fly to Melbourne later this month.
“It depends if they can get a race here. We will just have to play that one by ear,” he said.
“We are heading to Australia on the 31st (of August) and his first race over there will be on the 10th at Melton.”
Green said that while the plan is to head back to New Zealand following the Victoria Cup, they may decide to bypass the New Zealand Cup in favour of staying in Australia to concentrate on the Inter Dominion series later in the year.
“The New Zealand Cup is our long-range plan, but you don’t know what can happen between now and then,” he said.
“We have got the Inter Dominions over there as well so we may stay over there and not go to the Cup, that is a possibility. But the plan is to come back for the Cup.
“We have got options, so we will decide when the time comes.”