Ray Green relaxed about IRT Harness Jewels
By Michael Guerin
Ray Green isn’t going to worry about what he can’t control in two of the glamour races of the IRT Harness Jewels at Cambridge today.Because that is what he pays world class reinsmen like Maurice McKendry and David Butcher to do.
Harness racing’s massive meeting will see nine Group One mile races of $100,000 each decided in just over four hours, a rare major race meeting in this country held on a Sunday.
Two of the highlights of the day as the three-year-old and four-year-old male paces, races laced with potential Cup winners of the future and Pukekohe trainer Green has the highest profile of those in Copy That.
Green not only has Copy That (R9, No.13) in the four-year-old pace but American Dealer (R7, No.10) in the three-year-old and both have second line draws that bring luck, traffic and race tempo into play for them to get their best winning chance.
Green realises he could waste his time mulling over the possible scenarios of what horses may create pressure, be the best to follow out or hopefully set the race up for his stable stars but at 73 years old he would rather not.
“I have been around long enough to know you can’t predict those things,” says Green.
“I realise sometimes tactics can come off, like if you have a likely leader from barrier one in a race and your horse is drawn behind it then you might get the trail behind it. “But when you have a horse like Copy That, who is the best horse in the race, drawn wide on the second line it is impossible to know what might happen.
“I hope they go hard and we get a cart into the race but that is often a matter of inches or seconds in decisions made.
“All I know if he is very well and ready to go a big race. If we get our chance I think he can finish over the top of them even though most of his winning form has been when he led. That was usually because he was clearly the best horse in the race and he got to control things.
“That won’t be the case today but he is still a very, very good horse”
Copy That may have a stunning record leading but in the races when he has been driven with a sit he has always hit the line hard and the equation of his race may be which horse he gets to follow in the three-wide train and whether the first 800m is cut out in 55 seconds (good for him) or 57 seconds (bad for Copy That).
He is still the horse to beat but could just as easily scream home from a hopeless position and lose no fans but plenty of punters money. American Dealer doesn’t have the same pressure as Copy That as he will be a lot longer in the market in the three-year-old pace but he still appeals as a place chance in a race certain to contain pressure.
Another trainer not losing too much sleep over the myriad of potential race patterns from a less than ideal second line barrier draw is Tony Herlihy, who also drives trotting hotshot Bolt For Brilliance (R8, No.11).
Put him in front from a good draw and he almost certainly wins the four-year-old trot but not only has he drawn the second line but he starts behind a likely slow beginner, suggesting arch rival Muscle Mountain could get a long way in front of him.
"There is rarely much point worrying about what will happen early from second line draws,” says Herlihy, our most successful reinsman of either code.
“Gaps can open or close, horses go backward or forwards in front of you and you can’t control it. I will just balance him up and see what happens next.”