Green soaks up Copy That’s second NZ Cup

By Jonny Turner

The experience was completely different, but the result was exactly the same when Copy That joined harness racing’s greats as a two-time IRT New Zealand Cup winner at Addington on Tuesday.

Driver Blair Orange brilliantly constructed a carbon copy of the star pacer’s 2021 victory in New Zealand’s greatest race to seal the five-year-old’s place in the harness racing history books as a modern-day great.

Trainer Ray Green watched on from his Auckland living room as his brilliant horse won last year’s New Zealand Cup in front of a Covid-restricted crowd.

This year, the veteran trainer got to soak in every minute of the build up to his horse’s cup defence in front of a packed house at Addington.

Many of them were well-wishers and Green loved every minute of it.

“It is great, there is a real atmosphere here and I think this horse has got a real following now,” the trainer said.

“A lot of people were cheering him on and wishing us well and it is great that he was able to do it for them.”

“The game needs these kind of horses.”

A second New Zealand Cup victory continued the epic journey Green’s wife Debbie has been on with Copy That.

She picked the horse out of a weanling sale for a bargain price five years ago and the pair have been inseparable since.

“Debbie is pretty close to the horse, she loves him,” Green said.

The Greens sold Copy That to stable clients Merv and Meg Butterworth who were also denied the chance to see their star horse win at Addington last year.

But the Victorian couple were on hand to collect their third New Zealand Cup trophy, also having won the great race with Arden Rooney in 2015.

Though it may have looked that way to Cup Day patrons who were back at Addington after a two-year hiatus, it wasn’t just a matter of Copy That turning up and repeating the dose in his cup defence.

Green perfectly plotted the massive task of bringing Copy That back to peak athleticism following a hind injury soon after last year’s win.

And he got his timing absolutely spot on.

“We took a few punts along the way to get him back to his best, like taking him to Australia,” Green said.

Orange was full of praise for Green’s brilliant training performance as he returned Copy That to his best.

Though the reinsman clearly controlled the race tempo, the victory wasn’t handed to Copy That on a platter.

The pacer copped pressure from the bell, before going on to register the third-fastest winning time in New Zealand Cup history - 3:54.00.

“It shows just what a good horse [Copy That] is and Ray has done a fantastic job to get him back from Australia at full fitness, and at the top of his game,” Orange said.

Majestic Cruiser got within three-quarters of a length at the finish, charging home from well off the pace to run second.

The Australian raider got stuck behind tiring horses before the home turn, before launching his brilliant finish.

Spankem took third after trailing the winner throughout, recording his third New Zealand Cup placing.

Spankem held his placing after a protest following some hope-straight bumping with his stablemate Akuta, who was excellent in fourth.


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