In Ray Merv trusts

By Garrick Knight

There was no real hesitation for Merv Butterworth when he made the decision to outlay six figures on exciting colt Copy That back in July.

The Melbournian, who races the son of American Ideal with his wife, Meg, took the word of the horse’s trainer and then-owner, Ray Green.

“I have a very good relationship with Ray and if he says a horse will make a nice horse, I believe him,” Butterworth told HRNZ post-race.

“He calls a spade a spade and is very straightforward with no bullshit. There’s no blinking or going red in the face; just my sort of bloke, really.”

And if Copy That’s brilliant win at Auckland on September 20 didn’t tell Butterworth he had made the right call, his win in the first Sires Stakes Series heat for the spring at Cambridge on Thursday night certainly did.

“When he won that race at Auckland by seven lengths back in July, that told me he was a bit better than average and he’s proved it with these last two wins.

“I thought he was very good tonight, frankly speaking. All he had to be was tuned up and he was going to be hard to beat.”

Driver Zachary Butcher reported that Copy That still has a few tricks that need ironing out if he is going to usurp the All Stars army in the $170,000 Final on New Zealand Cup Day at Addington next month.

“He said that Copy That still put in a couple of funny ones but when he gave him a ‘flick’ he behaved himself. He’s just a big boof head, really.”

Bookies moved Copy That in to a $12 seventh favourite for the final after the win, all six ahead of him in the market being trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.

The Butterworths made a special trip to Cambridge for the meeting - where they had three racing - and managed to snare a second victory with promising mare, The Empress.

“Everyone that has handled her has said she’s got some star quality – Ray is her third trainer and speaks highly of her.

“She’s just gotten better and better with age.”

The Butterworths purchased The Empress for $70,000 at the 2017 Melbourne APG sale before shipping her to New Zealand.

She did her initial work with Purdon and Rasmussen before shifting to Robin Swain in Southland and, eventually, Green in Auckland.

The Empress has now won four races and finds herself a rating 67, meaning her time with Green could be winding down.

“If she wins another two races at Auckland, she’ll start to find it very hard,” said Butterworth.

“Whether she goes to Melbourne or Perth, I’m not sure just yet, but Perth does cater very well for fillies and mares. We recently won a $30,000 mares’ race over there with another Kiwi, Crystal Sparkles.”

The Butterworths will be glued to the television tonight before flying home tomorrow.

“We’ve got three racing at Ballarat and another three at Gloucester Park. Rupert Of Lincoln, another one we bought off Ray, is having his first start back for Kerryn Manning.”

It was a memorable night for the team at Lincoln Farms with stable worker Andre Poutama also training a double.

After failing at her first start for him at Auckland last week, trotting mare Superfast Ninja righted the ship with a tidy win while Runcle clung on doggedly to win after leading. Superfast Ninja is raced by Poutama and Green’s wife, Debbie.

Barry Purdon also scored a double, with promising mare Some Do and debutante three-year-old Major Jellis, who overcame and early gallop to get the chocolates in the hands of Scott Phelan.


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