Handicap makes it tough for Copy That tonight

By Michael Guerin

Trainer Ray Green is happy to set Copy That a mission impossible at Alexandra Park tonight for the bigger goal of defending his New Zealand Cup title.

So punters shouldn’t be lulled into thinking the exceptional pacer can win tonight’s main pace by the fact champion driver Blair Orange is coming north just to drive him.

Copy That will start off a 55m back mark in the 2200m feature pace and while he only has to give the other established open class pacer in the race Hot And Treacherous a 15m start, the numbers don’t look good for Copy That.

Quality pacers like Raven Banner, Taipo and Last Tango In Heaven (20m) are all getting 35m from Copy That and are well capable of pacing 2:43 for the standing start 2200m and if any of the trio do that Copy That would have to pace 2:40 to win, coming around horses.

Green knows that is unlikely but says tonight’s run is about getting Copy That hitting the line hard and re-gaining some confidence after a strange Victorian campaign.

“He has travelled home well and needs the run so we might as well start here rather than go to the trials against nothing, but he won’t be over-driven,” says Green.

Copy That is usually driven in his North Island races by Maurice McKendry but he will stick with his potential NZ Cup drive Hot And Treacherous tonight and that means Orange, who usually only drives Copy That in the South Island, will travel north to partner him.

It should be an easy tactical race because Green will tell Orange he doesn’t expect to win or do anything heroic for the first 1200m of the race, maybe longer.

The Pukekohe trainers admits he still lingering concerns about the recent, albeit minor, case of Copy That having blood in his airways after a Melbourne race.

“He wasn’t a big deal and a lot of horses, or any type of athletes, get blood in the airways after strenuous exercise but we are treating him to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“So I am not worried about it but in the back of my mind I know it happened and we need to monitor it.”

Just how hard those off the front line to 20m mark go could determine not only whether Copy That can win but also what chance Hot And Treacherous has from his 40m handicap.

He will have improved a lot with his fresh up second but he could end up racing the clock as well as his rivals.

Rowe Cup hero Bolt For Brilliance will miss tonight’s main trot after trainer-driver Tony Herlihy decided to skip a big handicap and head instead to Kaikoura on Monday week for his final lead-up to the Dominion on November 11.

But Herlihy should still get a decent victory tonight with Seve in the Sires’ Stakes head as he thinks the two-year-old will be improved by his recent placings behind the unbeaten Merlin.

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