Copy That stuns in Queensland

By Adam Hamilton 

It takes something special to shock Anthony Butt.

Copy That did just that when he exploded from a seemingly hopeless position to blow away a strong field when he launched his Queensland raid with a stunning Wondais Mate Open Pace win.

Just a week earlier, Butt left Redcliffe thinking Krug had a mortgage on The Rising Sun after driving him to a powerhouse Redcliffe Derby win.

But he’s now sure Copy That is good enough to seriously test or even beat Krug in next Saturday night’s inaugural $250,000 Group 1 feature at Albion Park.

“Krug was so good at Redcliffe I really did think he was unbeatable in The Rising Sun given the barrier draw advantage he’ll get, but Copy That’s win was unbelievable. He actually stunned me how big he went and how fast he sprinted,” Butt said.

“They are both great horses, probably the two best horses in NZ, and they’re going to take some beating next week. I’m glad I don’t have to choose between them as I’m committed to Copy That. That said, I wouldn’t swap I don’t think. He was just so impressive last night.”

It was Copy That’s first start in a month and so important as it came after his career-worst run when near last in the Group 1 Harness Jewels at Cambridge.

The four-year-old drew awkwardly inside the back row last night and both trainer Ray Green and Butt agreed the best option was to push through, drive for luck and hope gaps came at the right time.

“It was really only coming around the last bend, when I saw daylight and had to go sideways to get it, when I really thought he could win. He sprinted so quickly, he went rough for a few strides when I angled him out, but then he exploded and had them in a few strides,” Butt said.

“He’s some sort of horse to be able to do that, better than I even though he was.”

And Green knows there is improvement to come, citing the gap between runs and only a fairly cosy trial in preparation for the win.

“He needed the run to top him for the big one next week, no doubt about it,” he said.

“All the signs were positive in the time we’ve been here. I’m glad we came early and he’s settled better the longer we’ve been here, but it was still a relief and exciting to see him come out and run so well. He should be as good as I can have him next week.”

Blair Orange is expected to take the risk of being stranded in Queensland and come across from Christchurch to drive Krug next Saturday night.

While Copy That and Krug give NZ a huge hand in The Rising Sun, the other big guns include Expensive Ego, Amazing Dream (now with Nathan Purdon) and Spirit Of St Louis.

Luke McCarthy was thrilled with the wins of Expensive Ego and Spirit Of St Louis as they capped their Rising Sun preparations at Albion Park last night.

“I’m really glad Expensive Ego had a hard run like that, he needed it, he thrives on it and it’ll top off him perfectly for next week,” he said.

“Spirit Of St Louis jogged in again, still had the plugs in. He’s spot-on, but it’ll be a big, big step-up for him next week.”

McCarthy will talk with Spirit Of St Louis’ owners to decide a driver in coming days.

“The way I see this race, you’ve got the three big guns in Expensive Ego, Krug and Copy That, then Amazing Dream and Spirit Of St Louis on that next level. I’ll be very surprised if one of the big three doesn’t win it,” he said.

The crucial barrier draw for The Rising Sun will be held at 8.30pm NZ time Monday.

Under the conditions, if Krug is the only three-year-old in the race, he will get the pole. And Amazing Dream looks likely to be the only mare, which would give her gate two.

So the big focus will be on what alleys Expensive Ego and Copy That get, especially given the shortish 2138m trip.


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