Copy That's two biggest threats tonight
By Michael Guerin
A slow getaway and the horse who pushed him so close at Group One level last autumn look the only two real judder bars when Copy That starts his road to the New Zealand Cup at Alexandra Park tonight.
The wonderful Pukekohe will be a warm favourite for the $25,000 Alabar Spring Cup, which has drawn a surprisingly big field of 10 for the first open class pacing race of the northern season.
As talented as some of those rivals are Copy That is one of the best pacers in Australasia, a Group One winner on both sides of the Tasman and one of the early favourites for the IRT New Zealand Cup next month.
He is well suited tonight by tonight’s free-for-all conditions, rated 24 points higher than his nearest rival, and the 2200m is ideal not only because he is fresh up since a successful Queensland campaign but his best work at the highest level has been in speed tests.
So how does he possibly get beaten? Probably only in two scenarios.
Standing starts are the bane of serious harness racing punters and almost any horse can have an off night behind the tapes. While Copy That tends to be safe away he has only won three of 10 standing starts and if he even bobbles his rivals will be off and gone over 2200m.
Presuming he makes an average to safe beginning then his greatest and perhaps only danger on class and fitness is Bad To The Bone.
He is a hard-running, constantly-improving pacer who sat parked and pushed Copy That close in both the Taylor Mile and Messenger in April. On both occasions he also beat home Amazing Dream so Bad To The Bone could be a serious open class player this season.
He has looked forward at recent workouts including when buzzing his last 400m in a super quick 26 seconds at Pukekohe last Friday, finishing second to Alta Wiseguy who starts in the last race tonight.
Copy That was fourth in that same workout but was only given his head late after starting from 30m behind and was every bit as sharp as Bad To The Bone over the final 200m.
Where the problem could come tonight is if Bad To The Bone steps well enough to press for the lead as he is the one horse in the race almost certain not to hand to Copy That and that could leave favourite punters with a sick feeling in their stomach.
The other Group One glamour pacer returning tonight is Belle Of Montana but she hasn’t looked as forward as the two favourites at the trials and it would surprise to see her beating them in her first start in a year.