Could Copy That start in $1m Miracle Mile?
By Michael Guerin
New Zealand pacing star Copy That’s Victorian campaign is already enormously more successful than his past attempts and that could create pressure for him to extend his stay in Australia to include a Miracle Mile.
The South Auckland pacer was an easy all-the-way winner of the A$150,000 Ballarat Cup on Saturday night in the hands of Blair Orange and is now the warm favourite for the A$500,000 Hunter Cup at Melton on Saturday week.
That is a vast change of fortune from this time last season when Copy That was confined to his box in Victoria after breaking a bone in his leg kicking a fence, a potentially career-threatening injury he has bounced back from to become an even better pacer.
Not only did Copy That suffer than huge setback last season but when he recovered, he went back to Victoria for a four-race spring campaign in which he was unplaced three times and had a very minor post-race bleed.
He came back to New Zealand and inexplicably has produced the best form of his career since, with a series of wins off daunting handicaps and an easy defence of his New Zealand Cup title.
If he draws well in the Hunter Cup he will start a hot favourite as Australian stars like Expensive Ego (not going to Victoria) and Rock N Roll Doo and Majestic Cruiser struggle to find their best form.
That lack of a daunting Australian free-for-all hero at the moment must increase the chances Copy That, should he win the Hunter Cup, extends his stay in Australia and heads to Sydney for the Miracle Mile.
His owner Merv Butterworth, who also shares in the ownership of high-class NZ three-year-old galloper Sharp N Smart, has not previously been keen on a Sydney campaign, especially with The Race by Grins and the Auckland Cup coming up in April and May.
But the reality is the Miracle Mile shapes as being not as strong as it has been in recent years and Copy That might be the best pacer in Australasia at the moment so turning down a shot at $A1million could become increasingly difficult.
“I am going to talk to Merv about that this week, to see if he is any keener than he has been in the past,” says trainer Ray Green.
Green has sent stable foreman Andrew Drake to Victoria to look after Copy That as Green himself recovers from surgery required after he was kicked by a horse in November.
“I am feeling a lot better and improving week by week but I can’t drive track work yet,” says Green.
“But I reckon I could handle a trip to Victoria so depending what he draws next week I might even go over.
“But whatever comes out of my talk with Merv this week any thought of the Miracle Mile would be on the backburner until we see how he goes in the Hunter Cup anyway.”
While Copy That is $3.50 to win the Hunter Cup with Australian bookies he is a massive $21 to win the Miracle Mile, a price that would be more like $5 if it becomes likely his connections will change plans and head to Sydney.
Also happy after the Ballarat Cup was fellow Kiwi trainer John Dickie even though Old Town Road was a luckless fifth.
He was following Rock N Roll Doo into the race but when that rival didn’t let down as he can driver Zachary Butcher was forced to come very wide before Old Town Road flew home.
“He went great and both Zac and I thought he was following the right horse but it just didn’t pan out that way,” says Dickie.
“But he was huge and will go straight into the Hunter Cup now.”
While Sydney remains uncertain for both Copy That and Old Town Road, two open class New Zealand acers confirmed for NSW campaigns are B D Joe and Alta Wiseguy, who will head there for the new Telfer/Cullen partnership.
They will campaign at Menangle and possibly in the Newcastle Mile to try and qualify for the Miracle Mile which is March 4.