Green hoping to finish rollercoaster year on a high
By Michael Guerin
One of the great rollercoaster years in New Zealand harness racing history should end on a high at Alexandra Park tomorrow night.
It is fitting Copy That is a hot favourite for the last race of any code in New Zealand in 2022 because in a year of remarkable stories the journey he and trainer Ray Green have been on has been one of the most undulating.
Somewhat controversially Copy That will meet only three rivals in the $50,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup and even off a 30m backmark will be the hot favourite but any dramas over whether the race should have been held at all pale compared with the rest of their year.
Copy That started 2022 confined to a box in Victoria after fracturing a leg kicking a fence, and Green was with him all the way as he was trapped in Australia because of a snap Covid-enforced closure of the border (yes, that was this year).
The pair eventually returned home, Copy That worked his way back to full health and fitness and even winning form then headed back to Victoria where he suffered a minor bleed during a Victoria Cup campaign.
He returned home and the rollercoaster took an upswing though in an incredible month that followed in which he won off 50m and then 70m handicaps in the north and led throughout to defend his title in our greatest race the New Zealand Cup.
But wait, there is more.
The pair had only just returned home to Pukekohe again when Green was kicked in the stomach by a yearling which has seen him spend two spells in hospital, have part of his colon removed and lose 12kgs in two weeks, all the more incredible cause he didn’t carry a lot of weight to start with.
He is now back overseeing work at his Lincoln Farms stable and even able to drive his car again and says Copy That is spot on to put an exclamation mark on his wild year.
“It has been an interesting year,” says the laconic 76-year-old.
“But I am out on hospital now and putting weight back on, in fact, the last three days have been a lot better.
“I still have to watch what I eat but I am getting stronger and I even drove my car for the first time in a month the other day. So things are looking up.”
Things have never looked better for Copy That, who has won five races on end and in the small field should be no worse than two lengths from the leaders starting the last 400m tomorrow night. That means he should win.
“Andrew Drake (stable foreman) has done all the work with him while I have been in hospital and has done a wonderful job so the horse couldn’t be any better.”
Drake will, all going well, be charged with taking Copy That back to Victoria for a third-time-lucky campaign next month aiming at the Ballarat Cup on January 21 and the A$500,000 Hunter Cup on February 4.